Caught K.I.J.E. at the Old Fitz last night and what a pleasant surprise it was too. Being ‘Cheap Tuesday’, the tiny garage theatre space was packed to the rafters so my buddies and I had to take the front row seats which was all well and good until the cast started to let loose with spray paint. From amongst the fumes emerged a lyric from ‘Heartbreak Hotel’; “If your’e lookin’ for trouble, you’ve come to the right place”. And so we had.
The play by Joanna Erskine is a punchy little piece about four soldiers on duty at some undisclosed frontline who get busted at the scene of the above mentioned graffiti after tagging it with the first letter of each of their names; K.I.J.E. This KIJE ‘character’ becomes their imaginary scapegoat and they concoct an elaborate story about him for their commanding officer. Before too long this harmless lie drags them all down to more sinister acts including the rape of a terrified local woman. And it’s this sombre episode that is at the corrupted heart of the play.
All the young actors are strong and committed, especially Wade Briggs whose character has a penchant for Presley and sings a series of his songs with a tender voice. The costume and set design by Charlotte Lane is also impressive, transforming the venue into an oppressive prison of the mind. Lighting Designer Verity Hampson turns up the tension with zaps of interrogatory strobe lighting and Sarah Giles does a great job in directing the show from its comic start to its debased conclusion.
Referencing a 1927 novella by the Russian writer Yury Tynyanov, K.I.J.E. is well worth an hour of your time.
K.I.J.E. @ the Old Fitzroy Theatre, Woolloomooloo Sydney until July 30.