ACTOR Ryan Bates will initially be seen as the title character in the comedy Trevor wearing clothes suited to sailing on a lake. But, as Trevor talks about himself, audiences will soon realise he is not what he seems to be.
Trevor is actually the pet chimpanzee of a woman living in a United States rural community. And his activities during the story show why the next-door neighbour is frightened of him.
Trevor, by American playwright Nick Jones, is half of a double bill of one-act black comedies, Funny and Dark, being staged at the Civic Playhouse from August 24 to 26 by Newcastle TAFE’s Regional Institute of Performing Arts.
The other play, Victim Sidekick Boyfriend Me, by Australian writer Hilary Bell, is a dark satire about a teenager who initiates a bullying campaign that drives another girl to her death, but avoids a court sentence as her best friend takes the rap.
In keeping with the styles of the plays, David Brown, the RIPA acting-directing-and-writing teacher, is presenting them in different parts of the Civic Playhouse.
The opening work, Victim Sidekick Boyfriend Me, which has a lot of dance and action, will be in the Playhouse large dressing room, with actors moving among the audience. After interval, watchers will be seated in the Playhouse auditorium for the more intimate Trevor.
Writer Nick Jones based Trevor on a real event in 2009, when a large chimpanzee called Travis, who was the companion of a rural widow, attacked a neighbour, and was shot dead by police.
The play has a different ending, but Trevoris very much like the 200-pound Travis. Both chimps were used in TV commercials. The fictional Trevor is actually shown in flashback scenes with a real TV performer, Morgan Fairchild. And a policeman and animal welfare officer are shown talking sympathetically to Trevor’s owner, Sandra, who is under fire from next-door neighbour Ashley who is concerned that the chimp could injure her new-born child.
Trevor also imagines himself talking to an even more famed chimp, Oliver.
Ryan Bates notes that Trevor is a very physical play and he has to use the movements of a chimp and of human beings, with things changing swiftly in dream sequences.
Trevor’s other cast members are Chantelle O’Brien, Ethan Dale, Sam Deakin, Ashleigh Earley, Brianna Porter and Liam Callister.
The actors in Victim Sidekick Boyfriend Me, which focuses on young people’s social lives, are Biddy O’Sullivan, Chloe Marie Annie O’Neil, Connor Gibson, Elliot Payne, Liam Danaher, Georgia Emblen, Taro Pomery, and Josh Garth.
Funny and Dark can be seen at the Civic Playhouse nightly from August 24 to 26, at 7.30pm. Tickets: $20. Bookings: 4929 1977.