MelBorn is an annual affair that celebrates new plays by – you guessed it – Melbourne playwrights. As with all new work, there are times when you are treated to exceptional writing and brilliant acting. And there are times when that’s not the case. Luckily The Window Outside ticks both boxes.
For author and former dancer Belinda Lopez this is her first showcased play, and as the writer she should be proud. The story of Frank and Evie, a couple very much in love and committed to living their life with dignity, is not an unfamiliar story; but it is a poignant one. Especially when the subtleties of inner strength are revealed.
This married couple (played by Rick Burchall and Carrie Moczynski) live in their own world, and it is a credit to the text (and the performers) that their moonlight romance can still subsist in the harsh realities of a stroke and the imminent arrival of dementia. The real world also includes the presence of adult daughters Miranda and Sharon (Mandie Combe and Nadia Andary) the former a successful theatre practitioner in New York, the latter the long-suffering sister who stayed back to care for her elderly parents.
The writing is the highlight of this production but it is also executed with finesse by the performers. Nadia Andary gives a stellar performance as the neurotic sister with her nuanced characterisation of Sharon. More than simply a martyr, Sharon proves to have a refreshingly frank persona and Andary’s physicality and delivery added much humour to the production. Burchall also gives a highly memorable performance, particularly for his stage presence and singing.
Playing the rather clingy, incredibly anxious and rather saccharine induced romantic Carrie Moczynski relaxed into her role mid-way through the night. Initially her performance and accent were exaggerated but as the story developed so did a natural poise and towards the end she did deliver her final speeches with fitting dignity and pathos.
On opening night there were a few minor hiccups including some very long scene changes that interrupted the flow of the production. In addition, the lighting, while certainly very effective, was not consistent during the production. But those are minor quibbles.
In a week where we are spoilt for choice, this is a Fringe production well worth seeing.