Me and Robert McKee (12th November 2010)

Jono and I are off to see another play, this time at Circa Theatre, a play entitled Me and Robert McKee, a story about an out-of-luck writer. Sounds a bit depressing, I know, but I found an awesome deal on GrabOne for the show - $19 per person for a ticket (usually $38). Jono was keen so we’re going to see it tonight! 

The show started at 7.30pm and was about 90 minutes long with no interval. We had wonderful seats in the middle of the theatre (we were in the smaller of the 2 theatres for the show) and wine in hand, sipping away as we watched actors Christopher Brougham and Paul McLaughlin play their characters Billy (the writer) and Mac (banker and Billy’s best friend) respectively. Billy was a middle-aged script-writer whose life is falling apart – his marriage ending and the likely end of his writing career, he nurses his sorrows by drinking and relying on teaching for a living, constantly teetering on the edge of self-destruction. Mac, his best friend and producer offers him a screenplay to write and a roof on his head though Mac had plans of his own… 

The play started with the audience as students in Billy’s writing class where he would open his classes with a joke each time. In class, he spoke about the art and craft of writing, quoting (and often ridiculing) techniques from script guru Robert McKee. "Robert McKee says that if a gun goes off in the last act, it has to be seeded in the first act. So here it is," said Billy pulling out a revolver from his jacket and pulling the trigger. BANG! I totally wasn’t expecting him to pull the trigger and the accompanying sound to be so loud – I was shaken and spilt some of my wine on myself :/ 

While Billy tries so hard to find ideas for his script, he resorted to prying into Mac’s past, learning of his best friend’s terrible past and the death of his abusive father. As time went on and Billy still couldn’t produce anything (he was getting more erratic), and on the verge of killing himself (out comes the revolver again), much believing that he has lost everything, including his job after his breakdown in class and his gift of writing, Mac broke the news that it wasn’t the script that he needed but to use is as a part of his scam – Mac was scamming their sponsors for money so he could ‘disappear’ (he was in financial crisis, owing large debts). There was no movie to produce! Things took a turn for the better – Billy’s outburst in class got him a permanent position teaching while Mac took the money (Billy didn’t want any) and bid his best friend farewell for good. A somewhat positive turn in the sense both men were moving ahead in their lives but not truly happy (both lost their marriages). 

The play is a sophisticated black comedy that takes scalpel to the art and craft of writing and mid-life crisis, and you do need to concentrate in order to catch the jokes slotted in between. Great acting and a cleverly weaved plot, the show runs from 6th November – 4th December so there’s still time if you want to check it out. 

Oh, remember what Billy said about the gun at the start? BANG! “Someone has to die in the end!” reminded Billy, waving the revolver around at the audience, seeking out a ‘sacrifice’. “Or maybe just the dog…,” his voice trailed. BANG!


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