tennis court with three "players"
News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

Game, set and match

Review: Fugue, Court My Crotch ·
Blue Room Theatre ·
Review by David Zampatti ·

The young – and I suspect fast rising – writer and director James McMillan’s Court My Crotch is wild, savage, and will take some beating as the most memorable production of the Blue Room’s 2018 seasons.

The court of the title is of the tennis variety, the crotches are unambiguous, and the action, appropriately enough, is staged inside a green-floored, marked-up chain-link box. (Sadly, no set designer is credited, but its impressive construction was undertaken by the well-known dinosaur actor and T-shirt deviser Paul Grabovac.)

The action is as fast, furious, sweaty and grunty as any Grand Slam final, and what emerges from it is a wide-ranging look at sport, society and sexuality of surprising accuracy and topicality.

Woman striking a pose in white top and wide legged pants, on a tennis court
Morgan Owen is outstandingly arch… and she can hold a tune. Photo: Marshall Stay.

There’s lots of reasons why Court My Crotch might fail; it’s quite long (at 85 minutes, with no interval, it’s a marathon by Blue Room standards) and looks and plays like a skit, so the danger of it running out of narrative puff is very real.

But, while it’s fair to say that it doesn’t all work (how could it?), the show moves so fast and so far that its flaws are trampled underfoot.

Part of its charm is that, for all its Twenty-Teens gloss, Court My Crotch often feels surprisingly old-fashioned, very like a 1970’s uni revue in its uninhibited energy and earnest allegorism. Not, I hasten to add, that there’s anything wrong with that.

There’s great strength in its staging. McMillan does a fine job keeping its pace and intensity in lockstep with the narrative, and George Ashforth’s lighting and, especially, Alex + Yell’s (Aleksandra and Jelena Rnjak’s) sound design is high impact and high quality.

It’s a great platform for the cast, and they are outstanding. David Mitchell (not the David Mitchell) is lithe, athletic and distinct as the sportsman in this battle of sex and love.

His lover and opponent, the drag queen Ash Straylia, is a powerful presence, whether she is upbraiding audience members (including a suitable chastened reviewer) or showing off her moves and moods.

Mitchell and Straylia work impeccably together and against each other, verbally and physically (much credit to “Assistant” Movement Director Nicole Harvey).

Between them, on the umpire’s chair, Morgan Owen is outstandingly arch, cajoling her players and delivering judgement on their performance. Owen is blessed with a geometric mouth she can shape into rectangles, oblongs and circles and a voice to match. She’s hard to ignore, and a lot of laughs

She can also hold a tune. Her take on Patti Smith’s magnum opus “Birdland” (abridged but, happily, not truncated) stops this runaway train of a show dead in its tracks for a good six minutes.

And that’s an impressive achievement, in a production that has many of them.

Court my Crotch plays the Blue Room Theatre until October 6.

Pictured top: David Mitchell, Ash Straylia and Morgan Owen, the outstanding cast of “Court my Crotch”. Photo: Marshall Stay.