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From Tuesday 24 January, Sydney’s Old 505 Theatre will host the world premiere of The Inspection, written by AWGIE award-winning writer Richie Black (The Local, Aunt Agony), directed by Jess Dick and starring Julia Christensen.

The Inspection is described as “an angry, feminist satirical-thriller that flips the bird at the fascists who try to put us in boxes … and then insist on charging us rent”.

Theatre People had the opportunity to gain some further insights from director Jess Dick as to what audiences can expect from this brand new work.

 

Theatre People: Can you tell us about The Inspection?
Jessica Dick: The Inspection is a play centred on the character Kate (played by Julia Christensen), who comes home Monday morning to her (forbidden) Airbnb tenant, Carla (Amy Hack). She’s running late for a meeting when her neighbour, Dave (Nicholas Hasemann), asks her to look after his baby for 20 minutes. She hesitantly says ‘yes’, not being very nurturing, and then she notices a note on the fridge: ‘Apartment Inspection. Today. 10 o’clock’. It’s … 10 o’clock. Little does she know that Carla has had a ‘happening’ in her bathroom with a strange man called Boris and that the head of strata (Kiki Skountzos) is plotting her demise. Enter a young man called Corey (Thomas Nauta), who is eager to follow the rules and prove himself on his first day at the rental agency, and you have all the makings for a farcical disaster that ends in desperate tears, discovered Swiss Army dildos and drug deals.


TP: Why will the subject matter of The Inspection resonate so strongly with 2017 Sydney audiences?
JD: I think The Inspection will resonate a little with anybody who’s ever had to tidy their house for an apartment inspection because of the self-doubt that can begin to set in when you’re surrounded by the junk you’ve collected in a lifetime. There’s been a lot of discussion about what the younger generations are doing wrong lately … and this play just says, ‘Sit down, take a breath, don’t feel such pressure to measure up to everyone else’s expectations’. I think it’s a really reassuring message for people who have been feeling a lot of societal pressure, or a bit desperate about the world lately.


TP: How did you come to be involved in the world premiere production of The Inspection?
JD: Richie and I studied at NIDA together and have worked together for almost two years now on numerous projects. I really enjoy his writing as it’s so different from my usual work, and when he asked me to direct The Inspection for him, I jumped straight on board. Richie’s voice is so unique and so hilarious that it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

We then began looking in depth at his drafts and did a development in the winter of last year with some incredible actors, who brought amazing depth and reality to the situation, and that development led to the script we went into rehearsals with in early December.


TP:
Can you talk about the Old 505 Theatre’s Fresh Works program?
JD: The FreshWorks program at the Old 505 Theatre is now in its fourth year and is a fantastic platform that allows new writing to be seen on a professional stage. It’s seen as a way to facilitate development for new work and allow writers and theatre creators to engage with new text at a performative level. With a season in FreshWorks, creators often go on to mount other productions of the work developed in FreshWorks all over the country.


TP: Can you talk about the experience of working in the Old 505 Theatre and what you most enjoy about it?
JD: Working at the Old 505 in Newtown has been wonderful, they’ve been an incredible support to us and to actors all around Sydney. The space itself is incredible for independent theatre to access and I feel so lucky that we were announced as part of their season this year.

 

TP: I understand a particularly strong cast has been assembled for this production. Can you talk about those performers?

JD: The actors on this team are all recent graduates from NIDA or ACA. They’re incredibly talented and strong performers and I’m honoured to be working with them. Julia Christensen and Amy Hack, as the lead roles, bring real truth to these hilarious characters and work beautifully together to create a relationship between these women that is touching yet funny. Thomas Nauta and Kiki Skountzos bring incredible heightened performances that suit this farcical comedy about the invasion of Kate’s home front, and Nicholas Hasemann is maybe the most endearing drug dealer of all time.

Every single one of these actors brings their own personality and incredible talent to this work and together they’ve created something hilarious and poignant.


TP: What will audiences (hopefully) take away from their experience seeing The Inspection?
JD: Hopefully audiences will see this play, laugh a lot, think a lot and leave with [the] idea that it’s okay to live life at your own pace.

But mostly, after seeing this play, I would love audiences to want to see more independent theatre. It’s an important industry that is being slowly torn down by budget cuts and red tape, so the one thing that keeps it alive is its audience. So, hopefully, after seeing The Inspection, you’ll be encouraged to continue with new Australian theatre by young, fresh faces.

 

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SEASON DETAILS

Venue: Old 505 Theatre (5 Eliza Street, Newtown)
Season: Tues Jan 24 – Sun Jan 29
BOOK TICKETS: http://old505theatre.com/shows/freshworks-1480324597.html

Directed by Jessica Dick
Written by Richie Black
With Julia Christensen, Amy Hack, Tom Nauta, Nicholas Hasemann and Kiki Skountzos

Photos by Bonnie Mocchetti