★★★☆

 

Griffin Theatre Company is kicking off its 2017 season with a bang.

 

No, sorry. A band.

Andrew (Justin Smith) is a former rock musician, floundering in his first ‘real job’. Bureaucracy, red tape, funding issues and shitty colleagues are getting in the way of his big plans for the youth music program he’s been hired to head up. It’s clearly pushing him to the edge, and we spend most of the play wondering how far he’s going to go.

 

A Strategic Plan begins in medias res: Andrew is wandering the halls of a government building, music blaring, when he’s approached by his legal aide, asking if he’s ready for his hearing. He clearly doesn’t really know what’s going on; unfortunately, neither does the audience, and as we skip back in the storyline it takes us a little longer to catch up than we’re totally comfortable with.

 

That said, A Strategic Plan is funny. It’s full of adroit malapropisms, clever cultural references and characters that are so obvious they shouldn’t work but somehow do – Briallen Clarke as the HR professional is just perfect. It’s also idealistic – Justin, and Emele Ugavule as wannabe producer Jill, make us all want to feel that way about music. The play’s use of the tiny space is every bit as creative as you’d expect from Griffin, and the flash forwards and backwards are smoothly linked. Plus, the intermittent musical interludes are a neat addition.

 

A Strategic Plan doesn’t entirely live up to the expectations of an explosive story that it sets up in the first scene, but in the (slightly meandering) process of getting where it’s going, it certainly makes some pertinent points about the death of live music in the face of corporate Australia today.

A Strategic Plan is now playing at SBW Stables Theatre until Saturday March 11.

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