By Chris Hosking
So, Melbourne, we’ve all collectively been sent back to our rooms/houses for some isolation and introspection, (Sydney and the rest of Australia, you just stay proper quiet,) and what’s next? What should and can we turn to for entertainment and stimulation? One of the few joys of Covid has been the international release and streaming of recordings of filmed theatre shows – from the bombastic Hamilton on Broadway, to searing English productions from The National and Old Vic, to the subversive brilliance of Berlin’s Schaubuhne. It’s been great to have them. But, they’re not quite the real thing though, and at least for me, part of you is always aware that you’re watching them in a format they were not intended to be received in originally.
Enter The Pact, the brand new home grown web-series from the Bitten By Productions team. When Covid-19 forced Bitten By Productions to delay their 2020 season, they decided to make the jump and create theatre for isolation, made in isolation. The Pact web-series comes in fourteen parts, vignettes ranging from 4 – 10 minutes, with the first three to be released shortly. Available on YouTube (link below), viewers will have to wait daily for the next releases from there on – so no binging a la Netflix, this mystery is going to make us all wait a little.
The joy of The Pact is it’s matching of form and format. Each episode is a video call made by the lead, Morgan Carlin played by Rose Flanagan, as she struggles to untangle a mystery with her ex, Brett, at its centre, as well as her own responsibility for what lies in the past. Creator Gabriel Bergmoser and director Peter Blackburn have done well to use a series of video calls as an unfolding mystery. It’s a wonderful online twist of the usual neo-noir narrative format: a tenacious hero with a checkered past lurching from wild character to character in the unique worlds they each inhabit, going both deeper into the mystery and their past with every encounter, the stakes raising with each step forward.
There’s a high production value for a show created, rehearsed and captured in isolation, and credit to the editor John Erasmus and the writers: each episode ends with a gut punch of emotional energy and drives the web-series further. The writing staff led by creator Gabriel Bergmoser, who has written episode 1, 7 and 14, is a mixture of emerging Melbourne talents: Karl Sarsfield (Episode 2), Bonnie McRae (Episode 3), Kate Murfett (Episode 4), Damian Robb (Episodes 5, 9, 13), Kath Atkins (Episodes 6, 12), editor John Erasmus with a writer’s hat for Episode 8, Kashmir Sinnamon (Episode 10), and Eli Landes (Episode 11).