Saturday, 7 November 2015

Mortido, Belvoir

I have a rule against reviewing previews - it's unfair to a show to give it full critical attention when the show is still prepping, and is in that phase where it's allowed to make mistakes (I've broken that rule one other time on this site, and regret over that not-entirely-favourable review of a show that wasn't quite ready is the reason the rule now applies). And I did see this in a preview. But dammit, I really really liked this (and it has had a pre-run in Adelaide) so it's getting a review anyway.

A tale of cocaine dealing that spreads across Bolivia, Germany and Sydney, "Mortido" literally translates as "the death wish" (as the opposite side of "libido"). Angela Betzien's script reflects this as the characters chase wealth and power through the cocaine trade. Central to the play is Jimmy (Tom Conroy), a young ex-con whose brother in law Monte (Renato Musolino) brings him into the centre of an ongoing international drug war between rival kingpins. It moves from high-to-low in an instant with Leticia Caceres' snap-tight direction. Leading the cast is Colin Friels who convinces in multiple roles as various significant figrues - a Sydney cop and a German kingpin key among them - all his roles benefit from his charisma and star power which enahances rather than diverts away from the rest of the action.

While there's a significant percentage of fantasy combined with brutal realities, and at least one plot device feels a little far-fetched, in the moment it's a tense dramatic ride as the characters get more and more entwined in inescapable cycles of vengeance. It's one of the best new plays I've seen staged at Belvoir in a while - it doesn't feel gimmicky, it doesn't feel retro, it feels contemporary and engaging and thrilling and all the good things.