‘The Kidney’ was chaotic.
Speakeasy Productions performed Stefan Vögel’s dark comedy, ‘The Kidney,’ in partnership with Fringe Brisbane. Originally performed in German, Nina Pavlovic contacted the play’s distributors enquiring if her favourite theatre show had an English translation, allowing Pavlovic the opportunity to direct ‘The Kidney’.
In this story, successful architect Arnold is ready to celebrate the commissioning of his high-rise building when his wife Kate announces that her chronic fatigue is due to kidney failure. It becomes clear that Kate is wanting Arnold to donate one of his kidneys, however, he isn’t so eager. The night spirals into a twisted web of confessions, absurd negotiations, and affairs, which, in turn, leads the audience to question whether they could give up their kidney for a loved one.
As such, this production impacts audiences, positioning them between a rock and a hard place. That is, wanting to do the right thing for a loved one, but in reality, not actually wanting to do that thing. ‘The Kidney’ also highlighted the expected selfless obligation in marriage, and the perils of trying to respond rationally to a highly emotional situation. The plot asked the audience how far they would go for a loved one – would they put their short, medium and long-term health on the line?
Pavlovic’s incorporation of slapstick softened the moments of tension, which allowed audiences to relax into the unfolding chaos. Additionally, her blocking choices brilliantly utilised the entirety of the large stage: the use of the raised stage at the back allowed audiences to feel they were witnessing the drama unfold within the walls of a lavish, multi-levelled home. The tailored costumes and white furniture added to the richness of this lifestyle. Notably, the curved white leather couch was in the shape of a kidney, an enjoyable nod to the show’s namesake.
The actors high energy and fast-paced delivery kept audiences intrigued, and allowed the drama to continuously cascade. Lachlan Mitcherson’s strong physicalisation of the workaholic Arnold allowed audiences to understand where his true loyalties lie – unfortunately, not with his wife.
Alexandra Clare Fotinos as Kate took audiences on a rollercoaster of emotions. The reserved portrayal of Kate effectively ensured the character’s true intentions were not revealed until the very end.
Minette Cooper played the flirtatious Dianna and left audiences wondering how anyone could remain friends with the character. Cooper’s angelic portrayal of Dianna complimented the gaslighting and narcissistic dialogue.
Mitchell Duffy presented Geoff as a lovable, witty larrikin who left audiences wanting to jump on stage and save him from the chaos and his blind selflessness. Duffy’s relaxed and genuine portrayal of Geoff allowed him to be the fan favourite.
The brilliantly chaotic dark comedy ‘The Kidney’ was seamlessly recontextualised into a modern Australian setting. Pavlovic did an admirable job in taking her favourite European comedy and making it appear as if it were written for the Australian setting.
A perfect combination of humour, discomfort and disbelief, at some stage you’ll feel it right in the Kidney!
‘The Kidney’ performs at Hayward Street Theatre until Saturday, 5 October 2022. For more information, Fringe Brisbane’s website.