Reservoir Dogs

(Nash Theatre)


The violence and drama of Reservoir Dogs has been brought to the stage by Nash, but in an interesting twist every role has been cast with a female.

In an adaptation of a movie predominately about men interacting with each other in stressful situations and father-son roles, this reversal of gender has brought entirely new meaning to the popular Quentin Tarantino cult movie.

For those who haven’t seen it, it’s a story about a diamond heist that goes wrong when the cops show up from nowhere. At the rendezvous point of an abandoned warehouse, the surviving perpetrators argue and scuffle about whether or not there was a rat in the ranks, and who it could be.

Directors Christopher Doolan and Daniel James have produced a play that captures the tension and relationships of the original movie, but also brings this action to within a couple of feet from the audience in an intimate atmosphere afforded by the small scale of the stage. This closeness serves to enhance the shock and humour factors, making the inherent nastiness in Tarantino’s masterpiece enjoyably unavoidable.

The interpretations of characters played by such legendary actors as Harvey Keitel and Steve Bucemi are well suited to the stage, and such hard acts to follow are touched with an original flavour. Performances of note include Lara Kappler as Mr Pink, Lesa Bell as Joe Cabot and Liza Callinicos as Mr Orange, who did a particularly impressive show of slowly dying from a gunshot wound to the gut.

At some points it is not clear whether it is a cast of women playing men, or the story had been changed to be about women. The characters all refer to each other as “Mr White” or “Joe”, yet their costume suggests otherwise by being all skirts and singlet tops. Although this is probably meant to enhance the absurdity of the aggressive behaviour of the male characters, the contradiction nevertheless serves to occasionally destroy the suspension of disbelief.

The most enjoyable parts of the production are the classic moments of angry dialogue set in the warehouse. The scenes involving Mr White and Mr Pink, and Mr Blonde and the cop are executed with near perfect timing and heart-pumping ferociousness.

The setting of the Alliance Tavern in Spring Hill serves as a nicely suitable venue for Reservoir Dogs. The sparse walls and the view of the city lights out the back window create an appropriate background for the backwater scenes and locations in the production.

The mystery, suspense and tension of the story would be heightened for anyone who has never the original movie. However for those who have, the Nash theatre production presents an original and exciting twist on the cult hit.

— Tom Guerney
(Performance seen: Tue 26th October 2004)