The King Street Theatre is a tiny venue for a play that explores big issues. Tarantula, award-winning playwright Alana Valentine’s latest creation, is a play within a play. Two actors, Gina and Terry, are rehearsing a play where they are the characters of Lola and Noel, lovers in 1856 who are returning by ship to America from a scandal-filled tour of Australia. Lola is a dancer and actress, Noel her companion who later is suspected drowned at sea.
While it takes a moment to discern where the play is headed, the connection between Gina (played by Zoe Carides) and Terry (played by Michael Whalley) is evident. Their on-stage chemistry and banter pulls the show together, with the costumes and set design sparse but effective.
Michael Whalley is particularly skilled at changing from character to character, and Zoe Carides plays Gina’s older, less self-confident character well. Tarantula explores both the role of women and desire in the 1800s and today. Gina sums it up when she says at the end of the play, “Desire is the tarantula that bites.”
This is a dark and humorous production with a skilled cast. Sharp and thought-provoking, Tarantula has bite.
Until Nov 3, King St Theatre, 644 King St, Newtown, $24-32, 0423 082 015, kingstreettheatre.com.au
BY LISA GINNANE