Gabriel Bergmoser is a Melbourne – based author, playwright, performer, and podcaster.
In 2015, he won the prestigious Sir Peter Ustinov Award for Scriptwriting, an Emmy given out by the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation.
With an impressive body of plays to his credit, these works include Below Babylon and its sequel, Beyond Babylon, Chris Hawkins, Glenrowan, A Good German, Hometown, Life Without Me, The Lucas Conundrum, One Year Ago, Regression, Reunion, The Last Supper, and We Can Work It Out.
Bergmoser’s latest piece, Heroes, is a whip – smart study in character analysis.
His trademark knack for dialogue, is as expected, expert and succinct. The play has a fluid and powerful elegance, similar to Rodrigo Garcia’s pair of films, Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her and Nine Lives, as well as The Social Network, directed by David Fincher.
Fans and followers of Bergmoser’s style will be pleased to know that again, both narrative and motivation are divulged through the shear force of wordplay. Further, like two of his most recent works, Springsteen and The Critic, Heroes also takes a fascinating look at the trappings and pitfalls of fame.
Similar to those stories, Bergmoser isn’t afraid to cover the darker side of human friendship. Especially, when these connections are tested inside a professional bubble.
Living on the cusp of change affects people in vastly different ways. Some thrive from the knowledge that their circumstances will transform forever. While others, crumble under the pressure of potential.
Heroes‘ story is immediately involving from the outset.
Nick and Jake are best friends and two members of a four piece garage band. For ten years they have mostly played pubs and clubs, waiting to crack it big. Now that their dreams are becoming a reality, they are the proud recipients of a major recording contract.
As the group’s founder, all Nick has to do is sign on the dotted line. But before he does, there are a few important issues he needs to address with Jake. The story takes place in real time at Nick’s house.
In the space of an hour, ugly secrets and past jealousies are eventually uncovered. The band’s future will also be pushed to the wall and with it, Bergmoser’s parable will grip you to the finish line.
Take note that at fifty – five minutes in length, don’t be fooled by the compact running time. The story’s lighting – fast pace allows it to cover as much emotional territory as many shows twice or three times the distance.
Heroes’ story is one to which we can all relate. Especially when Jake admits that, ‘validation is the only thing we do that makes it all worthwhile’.
Located 10 minutes from the CBD in North Melbourne, Club Voltaire’s intimate space provides the ultimate ‘fly on the wall’ experience. It is the perfect choice of venue, allowing viewers to become at one with the unfolding drama taking place on stage.
Faultless physical casting and costume choices, inform and highlight the differences between the two leads.
Slim and aloof, Blake Stringer (as Nick) is the paradigm of calculating calm. Even minor elements such as setting up drink coasters prior to Jake’s arrival, give us tremendous insight into Nick’s character. Everything has to be perfect.
Matt Phillips’ Jake is the polemic opposite of Nick. Small and muscular, his playful charm is infectious. It is easy to see why, for all intents and purposes, he is the most popular member of the band.
Dexter Bourke’s direction is spot on. For example, as tensions rise, but for the sake of their shared careers, one gets the sense that the characters could truly kill each other. Instead, their hate seethes just below the surface.
I was reminded of the movie, Tootsie, where Dustin Hoffmann (as Michael Dorsey) is helping his friend, Teri Garr (as Sandy Lester) prepare for an audition. Dorsey’s words of advice, “Have the anger, but don’t show it to me,” resonate throughout the latter stages of Heroes.
(It should be noted that assistant direction was provided by Jackie Hutchinson and Barbara Talbot).
Simple staging consisting of two settees, a coffee table, and prop bottles, keep visual distractions to a minimum. It is a wise production choice, allowing viewers to be drawn into the full disclosure instead. (Crisp sound and lightning was by Justin Anderson).
Afterwards, my guest for the evening provided what I thought was one of the best critiques ever. She felt that what she witnessed did not even feel like they were acting, the script, direction, and the performances felt so real.
Can Jake and Nick settle their artistic and personal differences? Or as Confucius, the ancient Chinese philosopher claimed, “The person who seeks revenge should dig two graves”. Playing for a strictly – limited season until June 3, catch Heroes for yourself and find out.
Bergmoser and the team from Bitten By Productions are at their very best.
Tickets are available at: https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=276520