If you fancy hot water, hot tubs and hot psychological thrillers, then Jacuzzi – the latest play opening at The Alex Theatre – is for you!

Premiering in Melbourne on October 9, 3 Big Men Productions are super chuffed to be bringing this offbeat and very quirky psychological drama (with more than a splash of comedy!) to local audiences. Producer and actor, Darren Mort, was drawn to the total uniqueness of the project. “… having a JACUZZI as a cast member!” he enthuses. “The play is an awesome ride from start to finish and very novel.” Mort says it is a relatively short play that moves quickly over 100 minutes, totally engaging the audience.

Dealing with themes of family relationships, class distinctions, hope and father/son attachments it is a murder mystery with more than a serious twist.

After skiing in from a snowstorm on blistering Mount Buller Mountain, self-loathing rich kid Bo is surprised to discover that his parents’ chalet is already occupied by a couple of lurking slackers. He’s in town early for a father-son slope race; his old man, recently divorced jerky pop-psychologist, Robert, choppers in the following morning. It’s been a long time between for the duo: lots to catch up on (and lots to forget).

Mort plays jerky dad Robert, In his early 50’s, he is part of the nouveau riche having married into a wealthy family. His wife Jackie and he separated and subsequently divorced: they had two sons. The boys do not speak to one another. Robert secured the ski lodge as part of the divorce settlement – and is marking his territory by installing a Jacuzzi right in the middle of the lounge room.

He and his son Bo (Bobby) have had a difficult relationship and the play explores ways they are trying to reconnect. Says Mort: “Robert is obnoxious at times and a bit of a player; his social boundaries are questionable and he loves to big note himself. Underneath it all he lives by a regret that his relationship with Bo is not as solid as he would like it to be. The past problem has been that he has prioritised his own self ahead of both his children – and now he has paid a heavy price.”

There is little to admire about him, says Mort, however, his one redeeming feature is that through the play’s journey – he finds a way back to his son….but it might be too late!

Jacuzzi can be said to have it all – and certainly made a huge splash in NY with great reviews – so challenges, says Mort, are just part of the magic.

“We wanted Jacuzzi to be an intimate experience for our audience. Therefore we wanted to set it in the round and reduce our seating capacity by avoiding a traditional theatre space. Design was crucial; Richard Perdriau took on the task and came up with an amazing design that met with our needs. Further, the Jacuzzi sits right in the middle of the stage and becomes the star of the show. Our seating capacity is about 150 – which makes this ideal for our intention and very compelling for audience members who will literally hug the stage.”

“Given that we are dealing with water – we have had to include in our design non slip flooring; we have had to ensure proper loadings for the floor given the Jacuzzi will weigh over a tonne when filled with water.”

Mort explains that costuming also becomes an issue with wet scenes and dry scenes – something that needed to be factored in. Lighting was also a careful consideration needing to encapsulate the mood of the play.

Mort is grateful to have had the support of Spa World in terms of providing a Jacuzzi. “We also had to take into account its measurements and seating arrangements for blocking; this has been a real challenge for cast and our Director Jean Russell,” he explains.

3 Big Men Productions is essentially Mort and Fiona Miller. The company was established some time ago and is very project based. Their objectives include: promoting a clear, positive, sustainable community benefit, providing a springboard for working actors and production people into other professional theatre roles , promoting charities and raise their profiles within the community and to have fun.

In fact, from its inception,3 Big Men productions have been instrumental in assisting various charities through their work – something that is very close to Mort’s heart:

“My daughter has Cystic Fibrosis. I was determined to raise money for research and thought that staging shows and using them as a vehicle as fundraisers was a perfect union. The CF Research Trust embraced the concept. It has proved to be successful. Consequently, through my various networks other charities have come on board such as Save the Children Fund, Make-A Wish and many others. It has proved to be a wonderful experience all round and gives 3 Big Men an opportunity to give something tangible back to the community at large.”

The Melbourne premiere of this steamy drama promises something memorable and unique. Says Mort: “You will not see a live Jacuzzi on stage in Melbourne as a feature in any production – this will be a totally unique experience for all audience members! An exquisitely rendered deadpan thriller with tension off the charts! Lots of laughs; lots of soul searching; lots of bubbling mystery; and a guaranteed huge splash of intimate entertainment. We have already sold out 8 shows with tickets for other shows selling fast.”

October 8 – 24
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