The lives of a lawyer, an Uber driver, two insurance workers and other Sydney commuters converge in a moment in Michael Andrew Collins’s new play, a comedy of errors where the pinnacle error is a tragedy.
Reimagining traffic as a shared space where lives touch, overlap, and unexpectedly impact each other, the story hovers around a car crash involving Uber driver Gabriel (Alex Stylianou) in which his passenger, Lilo (played by Violette Ayad), died.
Lilo’s best friend and insurance company co-worker Sara (Mary Soudi) finds herself simultaneously investigating the death, both as an insurance claim and a personal tragedy. Little does she know how Lilo’s actions affected other characters in the chain of events.
It’s a dance between humour and hurt where no party can escape blame.
Each character gets a moment, a single scene, to communicate their role with another character – like two cars meeting at an intersection and then never again. The most compelling thread of these accumulated stories is an inadvertent conspiracy between Lilo and Gabriel’s brother Radu (doubled by Stylianou). Their blend of eccentricities (Lilo’s road rage; Radu’s unemployment) add gentle absurdity to the world of the play.
The actors work on a black stage. Screens display red, yellow and green. Designer Patrick James Howe’s use of traffic light symbolism is inventive though eventually dulled by repetitive rearranging and the unnecessary indication of scene changes.
Actors walk across the stage in syncopation but without any real impact for delineating scenes and spaces. Alternation between monologue and duologue places the audience in an ambiguous position and throws the pacing somewhat.
Stylianou plays his role as a misunderstood villain delicately and is wincingly charming once you know where his night ends up. Collins’ direction plays up the humour of his characters, finding nuggets of discomfort and selfishness that drive unbelievable actions. But this often comes to the detriment of Soudi’s character, whose earnestness becomes grating.