Review of May 7 performance by Elise Lawrence.
A fast-moving two-hander, Good Talk examined the comfortable rhythms and routines of a long-term relationship and the ways that we communicate in silences as well as words.
High school sweethearts Jiā lǐ and Erin have returned to their hometown for their ten-year reunion. Alone with each other in their AirBnB as a storm rages outside, tensions rise, memories are revisited, and insecurities and irritations bubble to the surface as the couple begin to have a good talk about their dreams, their priorities, and their future.
Presented by Moontan Productions, Good Talk was written by Iley Jones and directed by Amelia Gilday, with assistant direction and stage management by Alicia Badger. Starring Iley Jones and Cheng Tang, the script intercut dialogue between the two characters with internal musings and descriptive imagery that painted a clear picture of the setting. Jones was standoffish and cynical as Erin, while Tang played a convincingly upset and uncertain Jiā lǐ.
The dialogue between characters is interspersed with poetic monologues that weave together and evoke strong imagery of the couple and their surroundings. I felt that the escalation of action in the piece was a little disproportionate to the emotional engagement of the characters, which meant that I was less invested in the outcome of their discussions. I would have liked to see a deeper dive into the ideas of trust and family expectations that were raised, to create more relatability and emotional investment for the audience, but as it was these served their purpose to build tension and further the plot.
The set was compact and effective, and the small cast was able to transform it quickly where needed. The actors’ voices were sometimes difficult to hear when they were facing away from the audience, which seemed to be a combination of vocal projection and the acoustics of the performance space. Lights around the edge of the stage space helped to set the mood and create smooth scene transitions, and video projection was used effectively to present memories of the past as Jiā lǐ and Erin reflected on their shared history.
Good Talk was a well-constructed play about love, trust, expectations, and communication in long-term relationships.
Moontan Productions will present Good Talk at EC Venue in Fortitude Valley on May 7, and at Arcana, Moorooka from May 8-9. Ticketing and further information is available on the event page.