Printable CopySOLO
Flying Penguin Productions
Goodwood Institute Theatre
Until 16 Sep 2018

Review by Anthony Vawser

Two of the more notably impressive performances seen in Adelaide theatre this year can be witnessed on the one program, titled “Solo”.

Produced and directed by David Mealor, this pair of monologue performances brings together a return season of Charlotte Josephine’s “Bitch Boxer” starring Jordan Cowan (previously a double Curtain Call Award winner) with Simon Stephens’ “Sea Wall” enacted by Renato Musolino.

Coming in at less than two hours’ length (including interval), the presentation may be compact in terms of physical scale but is relatively rich and expansive in its themes and concerns, while both individual pieces (and their protagonists) display a satisfying contrast to each other in their emotional tone.

“Bitch Boxer” plays first, and it’s the one that this reviewer had the most difficulty with. The athlete in question is given a commendably vigorous portrayal by Cowan, one that does not neglect to be dimensional, but the relentlessly defensive and brash personality of the character only rarely allows us to take a breath of relief from her confrontational nature.

There may be audience members who find this particular boxer to be trying their patience at times (especially if the sport in question inspires a minimum of personal enthusiasm), but those who can stick with her until the last round should find themselves impressed with Cowan’s achievement.

“Sea Wall” is simply remarkable, a consummate display of communication and connection with an audience, as Musolino allows us to get acquainted with an intelligent, articulate, sensitive individual whose entire existence is upturned in just about the cruellest way possible – but it is the type of tragic tale that truly deserves to be called inspiring, because of the way it illuminates the possibilities for resilience, for continuation, and for healing. Its impact is enough to remind one of the oft-stated truism: lost love is more valuable than none at all.

With the return of “Bitch Boxer” giving those who missed Jordan Cowan in the role previously a prime chance to witness an undoubtedly gifted performer tackling a difficult character; and with the brilliance of the writing in “Sea Wall” being matched by a performance that will further enhance Renato Musolino’s stellar reputation, the “Solo” project will surely do the same for David Mealor (not to mention his talented lighting designer for both pieces, Chris Petridis).

A small-but-committed team of top-drawer talents has put together an evening of theatre that leaves a big impression. Get along to Goodwood and experience it for yourself.