THRILL OF THE GAME KEY TRICK TO CON
Written by Gavin McGibbon
Directed by Danny Mulheron
at Circa Two, Wellington
From 26 Oct 2013 to 23 Nov 2013
Reviewed by Laurie Atkinson, 28 Oct 2013
The competitive deviousness of the con artists in Gavin McGibbon's first major play makes it clear that it is not the money that inspires them to do what they do so effortlessly.
It's the thrill of the game of being someone else, of manipulating the gullible and the greedy, of seeing how far the deceits and lies can be stretched.
Con artists are in fact actors, as the American actor John Lithgow has pointed out. “I make people believe something is real when they know perfectly well it isn't.” And actors everywhere know only too well that money isn't the purpose of their game either.
The play starts with Stevie (Mike Minogue) on the phone wheedling from a little old lady her pass word for her bank account. But his bossy, cynical, unscrupulous mate Earl (Paul McLaughlin) has bigger schemes afoot which involve a wealthy business man (Jason Whyte).
To mention anything more of the plot, except to say the relationship between the two men becomes more complicated when Holly (Acushla-Tara Sutton) arrives on the scene, would be to keep writing spoiler alerts.
There are plenty of twists and turns in the plot which provide the roller-coaster ride that the advertising for the play promises. But the ride is not as fast as most roller-coaster rides because there is an excess of talk, some of which is amusing, about past events, happiness, and relationships, so much so that in the first act, except for one powerful theatrical surprise, it felt as though Con would be just as effective as a radio play.
In the second act there are two or three moments that wouldn't be effective on radio when, for example, we actually see two comparatively simple con tricks being carried out, one near Wellington railway station. Part of the enjoyment of watching a fictional con trick is to see it being constructed and carried out (e.g. the movie The Sting) but in Con for the major cons we are denied this.
Danny Mulheron and his cast and crew have delivered a smoothly efficient production for this world premiere.
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