The darkness lurking beneath placid, suburban lives is a well-worn theme. But Parlour Song, written by UK playwright Jez Butterworth, manages to portray it in a fresh, original way.
Ned (Drew Fairley), a demolitions expert, and Dale (Matt Dyktynski), who owns a carwash, live with their wives in mirror-image McMansions on the edge of a nondescript English suburb. By day they go to work and have barbecues. But at night, strange things are happening. Ned hasn't slept in months, his wife Joy (Anna Lise Phillips) has an unquenchable thirst, and his possessions are slowly disappearing.
In this dystopia, where perfectly good buildings are constantly being demolished to make way for newer, bigger and better, nothing is what it seems and the ordinary can very quickly become horrifying.
The stark white set, with a utilitarian object that doubles as a table and bed, is a simple but effective backdrop, allowing the characters to take centre stage. Much of the drama lies in the unsaid and all three performers deliver brilliantly under the direction of Cristabel Sved, veering expertly between comedy and tragedy.
As the suburban veneer is peeled back and the cracks in the characters' lives and relationships are exposed, a bizarre, nightmarish world threatens to take over and the tension builds to a devastating climax. Parlour Song is an intelligent, witty and dark comment on our consumerist society and the suburban dream. Gina Flaxman