““Fiji” is a delightfully alternative evening at the theatre, providing laughter, introspection, and the macabre in equal measure”
The small and intimate City Theatre is the perfect venue for Fourth Wall Theatre Company’s “Fiji”. The audience, like curious neighbours, is seated peering directly into the modestly furnished apartment of Nic (Sean Farrell). You could cut the tension with a knife until the opening quiet is broken by the entrance of Sam (James Porter), followed shortly by Farrell himself. Both actors are immediately endearing in their initially shy dialogue, recreating the awkwardness of a first meeting so well it is easy to forget the reason for Porter’s visit.
This main theme of the play is often little more than a backdrop to set the unorthodox, but no less human, relationship against. Director Bella Chapman, ably assisted by Tallulah Paul Blake, artfully brings out the highs and lows of the weekend romance. The actors fill every bit of the stage as the story whips through vignettes at a perfectly tender pace. The simplistic staging allows for dynamic movement – such as providing both actors the space needed to properly appreciate Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” in a poignant and resonant moment. Some missed lighting cues slowed the production ever so slightly, but this did not detract from the overall slickness of the piece.
I must commend the directing team for not shying away from the darkly comic nature of the piece, and really sinking their teeth into the macabre moments. Many otherwise innocuous lines, within the context of the play, take on a much darker meaning, and there were many times I felt bad for laughing as much as I did. This is also in no small part due to the talent of the actors; everything is delivered very straight-faced, and the laughs are well earned through their deadpan delivery.
Farrell’s and Porter’s chemistry is electric as they portray the shifting dynamics of the relationship, the balance of power between them delightfully ambiguous. In the rare moments that only one of them is on stage, the audience’s attention is no less held captive, but the pair really shines when they are able to feed each other’s energy, producing exceedingly naturalistic dialogue. I have to assume that welfare officer Rhyen Hunt had her work cut out for her, but it was clear to see by how comfortable the actors appeared that their effort paid off. Producers Cana Tutuncu and Clara Dammann, and production manager Alice Theakston must also all be commended on the final result.
“Fiji” is a delightfully alternative evening at the theatre, providing laughter, introspection, and the macabre in equal measure. I would urge anybody with the stomach for it to see it while they can.
By Orlando Riviere
Photo Credits: Fourth Wall