Suitcase Royale: Chronicles Of A Sleepless Moon

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

In Chronicles Of A Sleepless Moon, Suitcase Royale have produced a visually stunning show. What initially appears to be a stage full of clutter worthy of the Steptoes’ junkyard after a particularly busy round emerges as an intricate set, with clever lighting and brilliant design bringing out all the scenery they need to portray their ambitious Edwardian-style melodrama.

It makes for a hugely atmospheric production, with a rich, distinctive feel that permeates the entire show. The attention to detail and mood is incredible.

But while it’s impossible not to be wowed by the craftsmanship, laughs are a little harder to find. You might be forgiven a wry smile at the trio’s inventiveness when they play out a linking scene in shadow puppets, or ham it up to add to the sense of overblown drama, but it’s almost never laugh-aloud hilarious.

The preposterous stuff-and-nonsense revolves around a bizarre contraption: a tunnelling device that runs off blood. It’s the gruesome brainchild of the sinister Doctor, who forms an unholy alliance with the murderous Butcher to help source the fuel. But they must also avoid the prying eyes of the Newsman, alerted to a potential scoop by they mysterious disappearance of the cattle in this remote country town. The bizarre plot is somewhere between Frankenstein and Sweeney Todd, but set in Australia’s pioneer days.

Joseph O'Farrell, Miles O'Neill and Glen Walton play everything out in over-earnest seriousness, which unfortunately tends to stifle the comedy rather than enhance it. This is most certainly not played for over-the-top laughs, as they instead stick close to the literary genre they are parodying.

In fact, so much attention has been lavished on authenticity, that somewhere along the line, the gags have been forgotten, with one or two occasions notable exceptions when a genuinely funny line does emerge. If they could find a stronger scriptwriter to harness their impressive inventiveness, Suitcase Royale would be the full package.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Melbourne, April 2007

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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