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Tonsils + Tweezers

"doesn’t let its foot off the gas pedal for a second"

Audrey review: A ten-year high school reunion. A former student with a grudge and a gun. But nothing unfolds as you might expect.

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Tonsils + Tweezers

Date: 18 Jan 2018

You’ve heard of binary stars, yes? The astrophysical phenomenon that sees two stars orbiting a common point?

Well, if you haven’t, you’ll know all about them by the time you’ve experienced Will O’Mahony’s Tonsils + Tweezers.

Binary stars are this sparklingly-written play’s central – and arguably over-extended – metaphor.

O’Mahony’s orbiting bodies are Tonsils and Tweezers, boys who befriended each other in high school and have maintained a relationship ever since. Both were outsiders to some extent, copping it from the so-called “fountain gang” who hung around the schoolyard bubbler. Tweezers was the true outlier of the pair, however.

The exact nature of their present relationship can’t be described further for spoiler reasons. Let’s just say that as in many binary star systems, one body is visible to the eye while the other can only be inferred.

The action revolves around a 10th anniversary high school reunion, something that Tweezers (Hoa Xuande) regards with dread and anticipation. He has a plan to make it a memorable one and settle a score. He has a gun.

The fast-talking Tonsils (Travis Jeffrey) initiates a series of countdowns toward the point where Tweezers decides the time is right to use it.

O’Mahony’s play is just 65 minutes and this Michael Abercromby-directed production (for JackRabbit Theatre) doesn’t let its foot off the gas pedal for a second. Jeffrey has the reins at first, driving the story and maintaining contact with the audience.

Xuande’s recessive Tweezers then grows to become steely and menacing, especially in his interactions with former school bully and fountain boy Max (James Sweeny), now a location scout for McDonalds restaurants but nursing a dream of becoming an actor. Megan Wilding is hilarious and commanding in a series of supporting roles.

Designer Patrick Howe’s shiny black traverse stage looks good and Abercromby uses it well. The rise and fall of tension is governed expertly and this twisty, blackly comic drama unfolds – or folds in on itself, perhaps – very smartly indeed.

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