The Last Supper is the third in a series of plays by Melbourne playwright Gabriel Bergmoser. Audience members who have seen the first instalments Below Babylon and Beyond Babylon will be able to connect the story lines, but new audiences will have no trouble, not only following the story, but engaging with this new compelling story line.
The Last Supper is set sometime in the future in the “dystopian universe of Babylon”. The reference to a rare, vintage bottle of expensive wine from 2019 cleverly places the story somewhere in the distant future. This one scene, one act play is set in the boardroom of drug crime lord who basically rules the city. Dorian has gathered his closest associates for a drink, but it soon becomes apparent that his true motivations for the gathering are to reveal which of the invited guests is the mastermind behind a rumoured coup. Dorian intends to uncover the truth and ensure the traitor is dealt with.
The play opens with Dorian snorting some sort of drug and discussing what makes a good leader. That first opening monologue delivers some tantalising quotes as Dorian reflects on what leadership is really all about. Superbly directed by Dexter Bourke, the timing and pacing of the opening moments of the play create an almost voyeuristic feeling. The very quiet background noise of the downstairs cafe and the occasional ding of a tram outside didn’t distract from the moment, but instead filled in the quietness as the audience watched on to the action taking place. Demonstrating the wisdom that comes from experience, Bourke has patiently set the opening and allowed the audience to connect with the action before any lines had even been spoken. In the heated moments of this tense story line, it would be easy for actors to rush their lines but again, the careful pacing of the play allows for a high energy without lines being missed.
As Dorian, Gregory Caine delivers a flawless, standout performance as the ruthless and menacing psychopathic leader. Caine has some lengthy monologues to deliver that are pivotal to the story and he does so with perfect pace and clarity, ensuring the audiences doesn’t miss a moment of this compelling play.
Karl Sarsfield is convincing as Dorian’s younger brother, Brody, bringing a softer and more compassionate character to the story. Brody wants out of the “family business” but the story challenges the notion of whether someone in this sort of situation is every truly free to just walk away. Also delivering a strong performance, in his role of Novak, is Kashmir Sinnamon as the Head of Intelligence: rational, cool and seemingly smarter than the rest of the group. Rounding out the cast were Ashley Tardy as Claudia, who should be commended for the tears steaming down her cheeks and Christopher Grant as Vaughan.
The set was minimal but effective, however the small stage area resulted in the curtains at the back of the stage being moved as performers brushed past it. Bringing the table just a little further forward would reduce the risk of the curtain back drop being pushed aside and avoid the unnecessary distraction of an exposed back wall. The lighting was mostly adequate, but there was one small section of the stage where performers were left in shadow.
The fights scenes were well choreographed and delivered with such passion and intensity that, although only short, felt realistic enough to make the audience feel somewhat uncomfortable as they watched on. I won’t give away the ending – but for those who do manage to predict even part of the plot twist, there’s a certain satisfaction of feeling incredibly clever – like reading a really good thriller novel.
At the conclusion of the play, there was a moment of silence as the audience contemplated what they had just witnessed, knowing it had ended but taking a pause to breathe and reflect before applauding the performances. Behind me an audience member summed it up well as she quietly said, “Wow. That was really full on.” Yes, it was. The Last Supper is compelling and riveting theatre.
The Last Supper is the first play to open in the new Red Room Theatre at My Handlebar in Brunswick, providing another quirky and intimate performance space for Melbourne.
The Last Supper is now playing at My Handlebar, 581 Sydney Rd, Brunswick.
For tickets: http://www.trybooking.com/Booking/BookingEventSummary.aspx?eid=128894