Review first published: 15/08/08

There are actors on stage, on a couch, when the audience enters. Blank and comfortable, breathing as people who have barely moved do. We watch them watch the nothing on an old large TV and wait for something to happen. It’s the music which tells us, to watch them watching. The absence of sound, than a pastiche of theme tunes which easily affect and sway…as we begin Bumming with Jane.

Written by Tahli Corin and inspired by a short, winding poem by Charles Bukowski,  Bumming With Jane follows the lives of Patrick (Tahki Saul) and Jane (Sophie Cook) as they resourcefully manage and celebrate their “ragged-arse life” whilst dodging six months worth of rental payments to their Landlord Beverly (Gertraud Ingeborg). Patrick and Jane live from hand to mouth, week to week obliviously and completely in love. Using inventive ways to entertain each other for free and in order to sustain their life, Patrick and Jane go “dumpster diving” in search of all the “treasures” they need. Gradually, sacrifices are made, challenges are faced, and piece by piece the life they have together disintegrates into a collection of empty wine bottles and impassioned arguments out on the street.

Corin’s script is simply spectacular. Weaving story and character together: at times detailed, believable and emotionally honest, at others light and nearly invisible. We delve into the complex world of the “opposite to decadence, ” and the world of the hopelessly momentarily employed to the devastation of betrayal, all without us feeling resentment or anger towards the characters. Sophie Cook’s “Jane” is bright, fun and fragile which balances Tahki Saul’s solid, tender, mellow “Patrick.” Gertraud Ingeborg swings gracefully between seduction and power in her elegantly controlled “Bev”.   A beautiful cast who are robust and free in the hands of Mackereth’s sturdy and inventive direction. It is easy to love Patrick and Jane and easy to understand why they would love each other.

At times funny and sweet, at other times filled with terror and pain… Corin’s writing is elegantly poised where in the joy and random games are balanced by heart wrenching choice. It is the full range of a relationship: through laughter, tears and sickness … and we sit willing them to just… just… if only they just….

What is so surprising and beautiful about this production, is the tender and simple means in which Kellie Mackereth imparts this story. At times a shift in light from designer Sophie Kurylowicz, complimented by smooth electronic music by composer Rosie Chase, allows a graceful shift in time or space. Costume and set design by Melanie Paul is simple, highly textured and rustic… balancing ideas of clutter and sparseness seemingly simultaneously: the impulse to want to touch the back wall is ever present as is the shadows and reflections from the green glass sculpture upstage.

This production dares to be simple. Dares to speak simply about love, compromise, and money, and all obstacles in between. And in it’s simplicity, it  is perfect. Bumming with Jane offers us an alternative view of a road less travelled, which asks us to suspend our preconceived judgements on welfare and “centrer-stink”, on unemployment, on poverty and in the act of doing so, we begin to truly wish and believe that love will conquer all.