Blancmange Productions: The Deadly Run - Review by Daniel Conway
Sydney has always had a history of colourful individuals whose stories are not widely known or have been lost in the annuals of history. The Deadhouse Tales of the Sydney Morgue plays aim to make these stories alive and immersive for their audience. I feel safe in saying that they have achieved that aim. This has to be the most engaging piece of theatre I have ever been seen.
Writer/Director Liviu Monsted takes this true crime drama and crafts a narrative that gives the details without ever feeling overwhelming or like an info dump. The way he paces the story, what he chooses to use as exposition helps everything feel grounded especially while being framed as a police investigation. All of this is added to with what is honestly the coolest venue you could ask for, The crypts under St James' Church Sydney. Monsteds' choice to start in the courtyard and then move into the crypt sets the pace and the immersive nature of the production. The crypt adds character and sets a tone that I am sure could not be replicated. That being said the stage crew do an excellent job at controlling tension and moving the story along with sound and lighting, all while being unseen.
The story is shaped by the performance of Kyla Ward as Detective Merchant, our narrator . All the actors do a fantastic job at interacting with audience, but Ward makes you feel like you are part of the action. Pacing up and down the corridor and moving the story along, not just figuratively but literally directing the audience. Ward ties everything together. The stars of the show are Chris Miller and Jordan Gallegos as Kevin Simmonds and Les Newcombe respectively. Miller is fantastic, his performance reflects the desperation of a man who has no where else to go. Gallegos additionally infuses his character with a sense of desperation, but much like his character this desperation is younger and you get a sense that Newcombe has more hope than Simmonds. A feeling that is rewarded with the reality of how the story ends of these men. Millar and Gallegos make a fantastic pair, elevating each others performances and they shine in the scenes they share. They also make the best entrance I have ever seen, it is so good I won't spoil it.
The ensemble are all fantastic and have worked really hard to create a story that gives the audience an experience like no other. However I would not be remiss to mention the performances of Leofric Kingsford-Smith as Detective Ray Kelly and Bill Jordan as Mr Askin. Both men played authoritative characters who injected an energy into every scene they appeared in. Both men show gave performances that elicited physical reactions from the audience.
I have never heard of Simmonds and Newcombe, and I think the fact that I have now is what makes this series of plays so fascinating. If you get the chance, go and see this show. You won't regret it. 4 flashlights out of 5
Photos courtesy of Phyllis Photography.