Lottery explores the old saying ‘be careful what you wish for…’ and shows a $9m division one lotto winnings split three ways, and into three acts. Each act follows the story of one of the major winners, and what effect three million dollars has on their lives. They’re uniformly punishing results in a variety of settings. Act one sees two bogans invest their winnings into a loungeroom casino enterprise, act two shows the sad exploitation of a lonely widow, and act three has a lovable loser with a wretched family, just trying to do good.
Written by Matt Caton (and directed by Caton and Kym Davies), Lottery is being presented by BATS Theatre Company, a suburban Melbourne theatre company. The plays owes a lot to suburbia with its very average cast of characters and the plot exploration of what happens when ordinary folk win big, and the production design followed suit (with a basic set dressed well to effect). The play was best when sticking to those suburban archetypes – characters occasionally bantered in dialogue that came off as too scripted and out of character. There were genuinely funny parts, but some heavy-handed dialogue slowed the pacing. The pacing and smooth running of the show was also impacted by a number of prolonged and awkward scene changes, and by two intervals. Whilst the three separate acts would have been too long for a single sitting, the regular intervals seemed lengthy, and some of the uncomfortable blackouts between scenes dragged the energy levels down. In a small space such as the Cromwell Road Theatre, clunky scene changes are amplified by the proximity of the performers and the stage to the audience. The ensemble of performers – all playing multiple characters across the three acts – also had some uneven performances. There were a number of pacing and delivery issues, but these may be put down to preview night jitters (and would be helped immensely by a more robust and less reserved audience).
The cast as a whole started to hit their stride after a shaky act one, and acts two and three felt much more relaxed and confident. Notable was Laura McIntosch who had a consistently well-delivered and confident performances. Kym Davies and Michael Barrack also stood out in a number of their characters, with energetic performances and some genuinely moving moments. Overall the show suffered from inconsistency, some of which came from the script and some from the production. It feels like Caton’s script would benefit from a tighter edit and a serious consideration of the logistics of two intervals. The show will receive a boost from increased confidence after the preview night, and fuller audiences should energise the performers more and make the pace lift across all the three acts, but particularly the first. The Fringe is an ideal testing ground for the text and the production, and whilst uneven, and times slightly muddied, this is a solid first effort at a new script.
Lottery – presented by BATS Theatre Company as part of the Melbourne Fringe. Dir. Matt Caton/Kym Davies; Written by Matt Caton Performers: Patrick Hughes, Kym Davies, Damian Scipione, Matt Caton, Michael Barrack, Annaliese Todd, Laura McIntosch, Rhys Martin and Shaun Nicholls.
Originally published on Arts Hub.