Award winning playwright, Aidan Fennessy, ( What Rhymes with Cars and Girls and National Interest) is about to make his return to the MTC with his new work, The Architect. Billed as a surprising and suspenseful story of two unlikely housemates, it delves into the lives of Helen (who needs a temporary career when her husband John must go OS) and Lennie (a dubious young drifter.) The meeting between the two ignites the flame for a once in a lifetime relationship that alters them both.
The enigmatic Lennie is played by VCA graduate, Johnny Carr (John and What Rhymes with Cars and Girls) who describes his character as blunt, rough and full of life. “Lennie upends the world he walks into,” says Carr. “He blows in from – no one knows quite where.”
As with much of Fennessy’s work, stakes are high, emotions challenged and all is revealed with an insightful and empathic eye towards what it means to be human. The Architect is no different and navigates Helen’s untimely end of life arc with both pathos and humour. The connection between Helen and Lennie becomes a thing of insurmountable beauty. Says Carr: “He and Helen find something in their differences that helps liberate each other. ”
Thus, it was the heart and the humour in The Architect that caught Carr first. “The characters and dialogue are so fully realised,” he says. ” It’s a beautifully simple piece in a lot of ways. There’s an honesty that I find disarming and extremely moving.”
The work does sound like an emotional rollercoaster (so be prepared) as Helen is faced with decisions that affect both her life and death. But, it is also a celebration of life’s joys and its unexpected nature, as well as the connection of lives and the richness that can come from that. Pondering the end of life may offer us an expansion to life – there may be a certain freedom in that!
Says Carr: “I think how you wish your life to end is a fascinating theme. It ultimately gets you expanding that thought to what you want to do with your life in general before that. What is of true importance and what is just trivial. Running towards fear and sucking the marrow out of your days and going down swinging. ”
Carr graduated in 2008 and has been a prolific contributor to both stage and screen since. Other theatre credits include Edward II (Malthouse), The Events (Belvoir/Malthouse/STCSA); The Dream (Bell Shakespeare); The Boys (Griffin Theatre); M + M (Daniel Schlusser Ensemble); The Suicide (The Hayloft Project/B Sharp); Charcoal Creek (Merrigong) and Leaves of Glass and The Rites of Evil (Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre). Carr’s screen credits include Stories I Want to Tell You in Person, Rush, City Homicide, and the web series The Greatest Love of All (Winner of best foreign Web Series NYC WEB FEST 2014) and Echo Chamber. In 2013 Carr received the Marten Bequest Travel Scholarship for Acting, where he trained at Ecole Philippe Gaulier.
As far as a favourite medium, Carr describes both as endlessly fascinating but he does acknowledge that he is more interested in screen at the minute. “Having spent less time in that world, I’m intrigued by how much can be conveyed without dialogue. Everyone is always bloody yapping away in the theatre,” he quips. “But there’s something about the slog of theatre that I really enjoy. It’s kind of like sport. You definitely feel like you’ve done a week’s work by that last show. ”
Carr cites his last project with Fennessy – What Rhymes with Cars and Girls -as having a special place in his heart. “It was just one of those combinations of elements and personalities that made me feel like I was really in the pocket of something special. We got to re-do it last year and it was such a damn treat.,” he says.
Thought provoking, moving and surprising, the world premiere of The Architect is must see theatre.
Says Carr: “This is a powerfully honest new Australian work about life and death. It’s painfully funny and will hit you in the heart. We are so excited to get to share it with Melbourne audiences.
September 27 – October 31
Images: Deryk McAlpin