On a first glance Sumo, Chimney, Michael and Gareth are your typical Brisbane band dickheads, and I mean that in the nicest way possible.
The four men come together at a suburban Brisbane studio in a sloppy attempt at creating their band’s second album. After working with each other for ten years Hedonism’s first album struck a chord of genius. Having lost their heads to fame and success, record label executive Phil (Ngoc Phan) enters the game to salvage the band’s reputation and jump on each boy’s back to get the next album produced in a single week. Undoubtedly Hedonism are beginning to feel the heat. Their usual routine of wild late nights and trashing studios won’t be tolerated this time, especially when their most recent night involed under-age girls; a wombat from Australia Zoo; run ins with bikies; and racial slurs being leaked to Youtube. With a furious record company, secrets threatening reputations, and a powerful and sexy woman dangling in front of their noses, we know something has got to give. Hedonism are crammed into a studio greenroom with recently-clean lead singer Gareth (Thomas Hutchings) losing his grip, Lead guitarist Chimney (Gavin Edwards) getting cold feet in his marriage, Bass player Michael (Patrick Dwyer) keeping multiple secrets, and Drummer Sumo (Nicholas Gell) vanishing altogether. The play begins in the thick of familiar band chaos. Add Phil into the equation to prevent a seemingly inevitable PR catastrophe and each character’s professional reputation, friendships, and hell, their sanity, is bound to be tested! Director Margi Brown Ash’s strength and control was clearly the fifth member of Hedonism. Paired with writers David Burton and Claire Christian the action was kept as manic and unpredictable as Sumo, who stole the show as the familiar hyperactive-yet-lovable drummer. Sumo, while one of the biggest troublemakers of the group, seems to be the most dedicated to the band’s future. While Gareth foreshadows Sumo’s dedication to studio recordings and song rehearsals, the lead singer’s typical egocentric “all about me” attitude overpowers his ability to respect the band’s roots, journey and future. Michael acts as the ironic baby spice of the group, victimised by his own identity in more cases than one. Chimney originally provides a counterbalance to all three with a sense of maturity and organic zen, only to be brought down to the lowest ranking when suffocated by temptation within the claustrophobic studio walls. The studio setting came with quirky and ill fitting furniture perfect for a bachelor pad or backstage hangout. A woven rug, beanbag, mini trampoline, and milk crates filled with miscellaneous “toys” all gave the studio greenroom that home-away-from-home feel familiar to bands and artists alike. The set of stairs leading up to the recording studio door off-stage were a dynamic incorporation of levels and visual separation. The boys could have their fun below but the moment they made the walk up those daunting stairs, under the clock and into the recording studio, the fun would end and the pressure becomes a reality. Thankfully a play about a group of musicians incorporated small elements of music and song. A song rehearsal was introduced at the peak of frustration, only for their music to never be heard by the audience again. This invitation into the band’s musical world not only gave the actors credit for their abilities, but also offered a taste of the band’s past success. The musical snippet came as a pleasant high before the unnerving low that was the play’s conclusion. The four boys, despite everything, huddle around a pair of headphones and listen to their recorded song. The eerie silence, as heartbreaking discoveries are made and cans of worms are opened, leaves both the band and the audience in a sense of discomfort and sympathetic disappointment. Hedonism’s Second Album is the perfect play to either drag your not-so-theatre-oriented friends to or combine your two favorite forms of weekend entertainment – local bands and theatre – if you are so inclined. The play isn’t just four Aussie band members trying to make it in Rock n Roll, it’s four mates struggling to keep their lives and friendships together while juggling the push forward with their art and the memories of their journey to fame. With diverse characters, relationships, actors and designs, Hedonism’ is an excellent piece of contemporary Australian playwriting for Brisbane.
– Written by Rhumer Diball Aug 29th 2014
HEDONISM’S SECOND ALBUM PRESENTED BY LA BOITE INDIE WITH THE SUPPORT OF METRO ARTS and QPAC. TUES 13 – SAT 30 AUGUST 2014. Photo credit Simon Hall.