Sweet Nothings is the latest work produced by the Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) in conjunction with Under The Wharf Productions and it’s one with quite a pedigree.
First performed at London’s Young Vic in 2010, writer David Harrower’s script is based on Arthur Schnitzler’s 1895 work Liebelei. Schnitzer was a prominent Viennese playwright whose explorations of human sexuality earned him the respect of Sigmund Freud and the revulsion of the Nazi’s. More recently, Stanley Kubrick and David Hare have noted his influence in their respective film’s Eyes Wide Shut and The Blue Room.
The play opens with friends Fritz (Graeme McCrae) and Theodore (Owen Little) discussing the former’s affair with a married woman. Theodore is attempting to quell this affair by setting-up Fritz with the innocent Christine (Matlida Ridgway) who soon arrives for a dinner party along with Theo’s sassy lover Mitzi (Clementine Mills). Christine is enamoured with Fritz and is rapidly falling in love, while Mitzi and Theodore are comically pragmatic in their pursuit of a good time. The party descends into drunken debauchery but is interrupted when the husband of Fritz’s lover makes an appearance. The evening’s merriment turns menacing and the game of love now has real consequences.
Harrower’s script speaks to Schnitzler’s famously favoured topics of love and death, while also exploring excess and class. While the first half features machine gun banter reminiscent of Oscar Wilde, the second half addresses the outcomes of such frivolity.
Clear stand-outs are Mills as the realistic Mitzi and Lucy Miller as Christine’s nosey, moralistic neighbour. While both characters may have the wittiest lines, both actors own their roles making the audience want to befriend one and slap the other. However Mark Lee (Gallipoli) as Christine’s musician father feels wooden compared to the youthful cast.
BY LEE HUTCHISON
Sweet Nothings is presenting at atyp Studio I, The Wharf, Walsh Bay until Saturday November 23.