Lake Disappointment, by Luke Mullins and Lachlan Philpot Collaborator: James Brown | | Directed by Janice Muller

Carriageworks (http://carriageworks.com.au) | Carriageworks, Redfern, Sydney | Until 23 April

This new work, conceived by Luke Mullins and Lachlan Philpott, draws on the well used Shakespearean theatrical convention of the double, best evidenced in The Comedy of Errors and Twelfth Night. From there this one-man show cleverly attempts to dissect the nature of identity.

The monologue begins on the shores of a remote lake where an unnamed character has time to reflect on his past events — an elusive name of a classmate, Rowena, preoccupies him and punctuates his reminiscence. As he becomes more and more entranced by his past, we ascertain that he is actually involved in a film shoot of a movie called Lake Disappearance.  Furthermore, he is a body double for Kane, a hot-shot movie actor, whose arrival is keenly anticipated.

As his monologue progresses, the daily grind of the life of a body double is revealed — extended posing, maintenance of the physique through repetitious diet and exercise, and the continuous expectation and yearning for Kane’s arrival. Indeed, obsessive preoccupation with fantasies of Kane and the possibilities of unlimited success effectively deliver two characters on stage.

This is an extraordinarily layered and complex performance. Mullins is tragically poignant in his portrayal of this rather dull character who craves centre stage.  He sharply captures the physicality, vanity and loneliness as he chisels every action. He is also, as Mullins so often is, charismatically comedic, as he forensically reveals a man who shallowness is unfathomable.

Janice Muller’s assured direction ensures precision and she makes intelligent and effective use of Michael Hankin’s stylishly minimal set design. Although performed on the cavernous Carriageworks stage, the interaction is rendered visually intimate by Matt Cox’s precise lighting design and James Brown’s cinematic sound design.

This intelligent multi-layered show is also a deconstruction of the movie industry and all the minor characters that people this gigantic world, each with their individual existential questions of mortality and loneliness. As the Bard said, “All the world’s a stage.”

Do try and catch this. It is only at Carriageworks for a very brief time but hopefully Luke Mullins and Kane get to tread the boards again on another stage. Thumbs up!