Affair Play is a brand new script from the mind of Freshly Ground Theatre’s playwright, Sam Floyd. It’s a comedy exploring what could be the most quintessential by-product of love and relationships: infidelity.
Director and company member, Max Barker, shares that he is drawn to Floyd’s work because of its discipline and structure, and how that juxtaposes with the absurdity and wit. “I was excited by the structural provocations posed by having four characters, one set and no black outs,” says Barker. “Sam is something of a comedy theorist and setting and working within limitations like this is what drives him to write his best work.”
As a director, comedy is a fascinating challenge for Barker. “Helping actors get comedy right is a tricky thing,” he concedes. The play also appealed to Barker because of the opportunity to explore both gag-based comedy, and well drawn character based drama.
This play is also perfect for Freshly Ground Theatre because it allows the company to continue their structural explorations of what makes good on stage comedy.
As well as the classic and universal themes of love, lust and betrayal the play offers a more layered approach. “I think the more relevant and interesting themes are the ideas we have of “maturity and success”; transitioning into adulthood and ‘checking the boxes’,” Barker explains.
In fact, the characters are very familiar – “5 to 10 years out of uni, in a halfway decent job, with money, partners and everything seemingly going well, but there are gulfs of dissatisfaction in all of their lives.,” Says Barker
The play explores how people deal with that dissatisfaction, and the tricky balance between doing what you want and doing what you think you should.
Barker and Floyd have known one another for around 10 years, both coming up as contemporaries in the Canberra arts scene.
When Floyd was starting out as a playwright and producer, he approached Barker for directorial assistance. “Really he was feeling me out to see if we meshed as artists, if we had the same sense of humour and ethos. We did, and now I’m the resident director of his company,” says Barker. “I see my role as helping to corral Sam’s ideas from his head to the stage, as well as facilitating actor input.”
The philosophies of the Company are simple: A DIY attitude, a respect for craft and character, a healthy sense of the ridiculous, and the importance of regular post rehearsal beers.
Running and operating an Indy theatre can be extremely challenging and Barker concedes that Freshly Ground Theatre is no exception. “I have so much respect for Remy and Sam who do much more of the behind the scenes production work than I do. It’s long and hard work. ”
“Melbourne has such a healthy theatre scene that it can be hard to find a way to stand out from the crowd while remaining true to your own values and aesthetic. As well as that, these days one has to do so much social media it becomes a job. Of course, getting people in the door is always hard. ”
For Affair Play, Barker’s message is simple: “This work comes from the heart. It’s unique and relevant and says something in a way that is sincere and funny and ridiculous. We have all put a lot of time, thought, feels and soul into it, and I really think it shines through. What we have developed over the course of rehearsals is something unique from what we began with, and something we are very proud of. We’d love to share it with you.”
December 9 – 19