Yesterday afternoon, I saw Saturn’s Return at the Wharf theater. Talk about having a bit of a mind screwup. the play centers around Zara, a 29 year old Sydney woman living with her boyfriend Matt in inner city Sydney; They’re professionals, successful; They left school ten years ago, graduated from UNSW, go out to a big rotating bar in the middle of town.
Then there’s me, Robert, a 29 year old living in Sydney, professional, graduated from UNSW, left school just over 10 years ago. The rotating bar in town is one that I know about and went to a few times, and I know it well. Talk about a play speaking to me, this thing was about as close to home as theater could get for me. The plays title is an obvious reference to the Saturn Return, a name in astrology for a predict hard test of character that happens just before 30. Zara and Matt are going through that stage, they’re having fun, living together, enjoying sex and being spontaneous, almost adolescent. They live in sexual fantasies, and are truly happy. Or, well, so it seems.
Zara and Matt talk about buying an apartment, looking at the future, and the cracks seem to appear; Slowly, surely, it turns out that they’re not as in tune as they thought they were. Why? who knows. All this time the writing is witty, fresh, raunchy and honest;
The play starts out realistic, with Matt and Zara bearing their hearts out on stage, as couples do; You expect the realism to continue, but the play slowly drifts into fantasy, further, and funnier, from the reality of the relationship between them. So much so, that for the last 15 minutes, I had no idea what was real, and what was in some lala drug induced land of fantasy, until the last couple of minutes grounded the audience again. Turns out there were no drugs involved, but it was fun while it lasted. I ended up feeling very drawn in to the two, thinking that I’ve seen and heard these stories over and over, and I guess I’m one of them, in a lot of ways. Worth seeing, and it’s only one and a half hours, so it’s really easy to see, and doesn’t get boring for an instant, and almost feels like two short plays, rather than one.
The staging is excellent, with a rotating stage of multiple rooms, that shifts perfectly between scenes, between rooms, times and locations; There’s an impressive and awesome collection of toys in their apartment at the start, and keep a look out for the genuine Thom Yorke signed Radiohead poster; I want one!