The return season of Still Standing gives Brisbane audiences another chance to see an entertaining and ultimately thoughtful play. Margery and Michael Forde’s script is a beautifully crafted work such as we have come to expect from this talented couple. It is tightly and sensitively written, with an extraordinary flair for speech nuances. Director Andrew Buchanan brings the best from the text and from his fine cast of actors and musicians.
As a musical entertainment, Still Standing gives a good night of ’80s music energetically presented by band players Ewan MacKenzie, Ross Smith and Chris Tone. As a play, it conjures up the fascinating but seedy world of rock culture through the eyes of a group of early middle-aged performers trying to recapture their youth.
An important theme is character, and in particular the contrast between the slippery ethics and morals of the externally successful but deeply flawed Skeet (Hayden Spencer), and the decency and courage of the apparent ne’er-do-well Nev (Andy McDonell). It is Nev’s decency beneath his ramshackle exterior which appears the key to attracting good-time girl Brenda (Barbara Fordham). Skeet has all too much of the “bit of mongrel” needed for success in life, and by the end is beginning to comprehend the diabolical pact he has entered.
Spencer gives another of his full-on, manic performances as Skeet, and both Fordham and McDonell interact with him convincingly. Technically the show is clever: in capturing the band both in rehearsal and in performance, it comes up with all the typical problems feedback noice, lighting failures, etc. and all on cue.