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Julian Crotti & Duncan Luke, Tom the Loneliest Julian Crotti & Duncan Luke, Tom the Loneliest
photo Rodney Magazinovic
TOM WOULD BE THE LONELIEST MAN IN TOWN, WERE IT NOT FOR TOM TO KEEP HIM COMPANY. THESE TWO TOMS ARE NOT ALIKE IN TEMPERAMENT AND THEY’RE NOT EXACTLY MATES. THEY’RE THROWN TOGETHER BY CIRCUMSTANCE, MUCH LIKE THE JUNKED OUT SHED IN WHICH THEY LIVE. STILL THEY SHARE A TASTE FOR DIAL-UP PIZZA EATEN COLD WHILE WATCHING PORN. THEY CHEW IN SILENCE WITH SLACK MOUTHS, AS THE FEMALE PORN STAR COMES TO CLIMAX. THEY’RE NOT AROUSED. WE LAUGH AT THAT. THEY SWITCH HER OFF AND START LAUGHING TOO. THEY’VE NOT BEEN LUCKY IN LOVE.

One Tom—played with earnest, angular distraction by Duncan Luke, a regular with No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability—is nerdy, needy, driven yet frustrated. His fantasy escape hinges on some story about a Russian ice skating champion. He picks up the phone on more than one occasion to call Maureen at the QuitLine. He verbally abuses her with an erotic poem about smoking cigarettes.

Mobile, versatile actor Julian Crotti plays the other Tom. He’s angry too, but less neurotic, at times exuding from his clapped out armchair a certain playful warmth. He shouts heartily at the next door neighbour whose behaviour has pissed him off. In a rough blonde wig, he role-plays Tom’s relationship with Carmel. Ten years too late, he apologises for the violence.

Tom the Loneliest is performed in a shed, off the car park, in Dunstone Grove, a recreation reserve in suburban Adelaide. It was first conceived by Luke and Crotti as a short work for No Strings Attached’s Tempted series in 2007. It’s a simple premise—two men at odds with each other, with women and the world—which is reminiscent of themes in Daniel Keene’s playwriting. Although, if the language in this self-scripted work is less figurative, the emotions are more raw, the gestures more intense.

These are disadvantaged men, disenfranchised from the material acquisitions of masculinity—a job, a wife, a house. But they’ve not lost the power of their passion. Their fulsome anger and irreverent misogyny stand them in good stead. We know that when their passion droops like soggy pizza it’s just a temporary pause.

Director Paulo Castro has successfully developed Tom the Loneliest into an engaging full-length work. It has a materialist, found-object aesthetic. It is lit from the floor with bedroom lamps. And its dramatic arc is charted by Castro and the actors with clarity and care.

We might expect that Tom and Tom should eventually find solace in each other. With all that anger at the outset, a heartfelt hug in some moment of stillness was always on the cards. Unexpected were the feelings evoked at a funeral scene when, burying a ‘For Sale’ sign named Tom, the two Toms eulogise into existence the collapse of the entire real estate market.

Like another moment near the end when Crotti finds romance dancing with an enormous puppet wasp, such material encounters with found objects generate ironies of the inevitable which are both moving and profound.


No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability, Tom the Loneliest, director Paulo Castro, performers Julian Crotti, Duncan Luke, The Shed, Stepney, Adelaide, Oct 14-18

RealTime issue #88 Dec-Jan 2008 pg. 39

© Jonathan Bollen; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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