Plays: By HimselfLeft-Mark Priestly & Ewan Leslie. Cover-Ewan Leslie and Leon Ford.

Full of the Old Fitzroy’s famous and delicious laksa, I head down the stairs and into the tiny room underneath the Old Fitzroy Hotel. This theatre has been going for nearly ten years, and it is a testament to people’s enthusiasm for independent local theatre that it is still producing quality plays.

Their current production is no exception. This is a collection of three short plays by young writer Josh Lawson, who may be known to some from his appearances on Thank God You’re Here and Joker Poker. Shakespearealism, Eleven O’Clock and Work in Progress are the three plays that make up this entertaining program.

The first piece, Shakespearealism, would be funny to anyone who has even the smallest Bard experience. It is a self-referential look at William Shakespeare’s lesser-known brother, Ralph (Leon Ford). Ralph is also a playwright, but his style is realism, unlike his brother’s fantasies. As well as writing his own, ellipse-ridden pieces, he has a crack at making Will’s work more simple and real: “To be, or not to be, that is a toughie.” Shakespearealism gives a hilarious insight into how modern realist plays would be received in Shakespeare’s time.

Eleven O’Clock is the second piece, a comedy of mistaken identity involving a psychiatrist and a man who thinks he is a psychiatrist. The two main actors, Mark Priestley and Ewen Leslie, display excellent timing as they banter back and forth amidst the growing confusion of just who is shrinking the head of who.

Work in Progress is another piece that metatheatrically refers to itself as theatre. According to the play itself, it is trying to be “one of those Escher things, where you can’t tell which hand is drawing which hand.” Simon (Sam North) brings his new girlfriend, Charlotte (Rita Kalnejais), home to meet the parents, however we soon find out that she is a character that he has created, and continues creating throughout the piece. Even the writer’s typographical errors are enacted, such as Charlotte’s exclamation that “something smells goos!” Charlotte is an incredibly difficult character to play, and Kalnejais does a superb job, with great comic timing.

While all three pieces have individual charm and storylines, it is clear that Lawson has developed a unique and strong style, which carries through the whole evening. The acting is most talented, but the real star here is Lawson’s writing. It is imaginative, hilariously self-referential, enjoyable and satisfying. This is an excellent triptych of plays, and a highly enjoyable night at the theatre. Go see it. And don’t forget to try the laksa!

Tamarama Rock Surfers Theatre Company presents
Plays: By Himself
Three Short Plays by Josh Lawson

Venue: The Old Fitzroy Theatre – Cnr Cathedral & Dowling Sts, Woolloomooloo.
Dates: 29th November – 23rd December 2006
Times: Tuesday – Saturday @ 8pm  & Sunday @ 5pm PLEASE NOTE THERE WILL BE NO SHOW ON FRIDAY 8TH DECEMBER
Opening: Friday 1st December August 2006 8pm (Invitation only)
Preview: 29th &  30th November 2006 – 8pm  - $16 Adult - $24 BLS
Tickets: $19 Concession, $27 Adult, $33 Beer, Laksa & Show (BLS)
Special: Cheap Tuesdays - $16 Adult, $24 Beer Laksa & Show
Contact: Kar Chalmers 0404 285 630 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Bookings: (02) 9294 4296 or

Most read Sydney reviews