SPITE THE FACE

 

THE STAGE-    REVIEW 
25th August 2006

Be warned, the dreadful title and poster give no indication of the delightful 55 minutes they herald. Satirical, witty and romantic all at once, Greg Freeman’s one-man playlet is a pertinent examination of how we perceive ourselves in society.

Ethan is making a video diary in his flat. The intention is to record his feelings before and after the ground-breaking operation that researchers will carry out to restore the sense of smell that he lost as a child. A Heath Robinson-style prosthetic will be fitted while his real nose is grafted on to the backside of a pig, just in case the experiment is a failure.

When confronting the camera, our transplantee roams his flat, constantly checking the gas cooker (he can’t smell if it leaks) while admitting to a slight void in his emotional life. Not lonely as such, he’s still looking forward to the new vistas he believes a bionic proboscis will bring to his stalled life - and maybe his luck with the girls will come flooding back.

Alex Dee charms with oddball vulnerability as Ethan marks on his journey into the discovery of what is and isn’t normal. He doesn’t miss a beat even when reaching for a huge raw onion and crunching his way through it without a dropped word or a tear.

With a little more development, including elaboration of the inexplicably wasted subplot of the kidnapped pig, this could easily become the show it promises to be.   [Nick Awde]

ONE4 REVIEW.COM        
26th August 2006

 Can you imagine a life without smell? I believe there are people living with this affliction. It is not just aroma, 80% of taste is perceived through the olfactory senses. If you had had no sense of smell from a young age just how far would you go to regain it?

Ethan De'Ath is angry and alone, his relationship over, well how was he to know the gas was on and the cat locked in, he did attempt to give it the kiss of life but to no avail. Once again his life stinks, literally, as the joker who could eat anything, he has been given things no normal person would try!

In the depth of his frustration he is given hope, an experimental breakthrough in computer technology has made it possible for his nose to be removed and a prosthesis put in its place. The linking of the computer proboscis to his brain will let him smell and taste again. His nose will be kept alive and viable by being grafted on to Gunter's behind, Gunter being a giant pig.

We see Ethan in the flat that is his new home for the duration of the experiment and get to know him through his video diaries. His recordings cover past, present and projected future. Once this hideous metal contraption is grafted on, the myriad of scents and aromas assaulting his system is overpowering. Will he embrace his new life, or long for the old? And what will he do when Gunter is kidnapped.

This one man play is cleverly written with both sensitivity and humour, I had never before thought how bewildering it might be to be told, specimen bag no142 is burnt toast, no84 varnish, no20 cut grass etc etc etc. How would you really know this is so.

Alex Dee as Ethan De'Ath is under scrutiny in several ways we see him perform on the set but also watch his face on a large screen on the back wall as he is filming his video diaries. When he is projected on the wall it is difficult to say whether I looked more at his stage persona or scrutinised his eyes on screen. I have always enjoyed sitting in the front row, but seldom get the chance to observe the performers eyes as closely. This led me into total admiration for Alex as his words, body language and eyes were always giving off exactly the same messages at the same time.

I left full of admiration for the performer and writer to have been able to cover this subject in such a way, I only wish I had seen it sooner and had been able to publicise it more. So the flyer may have been a little off putting but it just goes to show you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, a show by its flyer or a pig by its nose!

 

THREE WEEKS REVIEW       
17th August 2006

 Stage D'Or's other show at the Fringe, 'The Phonebook Live!', tests the old assertion that a good actor can read from the phone book and still hold the audience's attention. I don't know how many of their guests manage it, but I'd wager hardly any of them could remain exciting for an hour alone in a cave talking about their nose to a video camera. But somehow Stage D'Or's own talented Alex Dee manages it. He is both loveable and excruciatingly embarrassing, like a more tragic and touching Mark Corrigan (David Mitchell's character from Peep Show) and raises interesting questions about love, science, humanity and epistemology in a conversational, witty and very human way. A great script brimming with ideas, passionately executed in a perfect setting.

© 2019 by Greg Freeman