Sydney review – Trevor: a unique and creative production
By Nick Jones
Directed by Shaun Rennie
An Outhouse Theatre Company in association with Bakehouse Theatre Company Production
244-248 William Street
Season: 14 June – 6 July. 90 minutes. No interval. Bookings: www.outhousetheatre.org
There’s an old showbiz adage that it’s best not to work with children and animals. In Trevor, we have both. An infant makes an appearance and the animal is Trevor (Jamie Oxenbould), a house-trained chimpanzee who wears overalls and enjoys red wine. But the result is not a disaster. Trevor is a hilarious, moving and poignant tale which gives a new understanding of what our pets go through to keep us humans happy.
Trevor, written by Nick Jones and based on real events in Connecticut USA, is the story of an ageing chimp, raised by his owner Sandra (Di Adams) to be as near human as possible. He’s a real handful in the home as he jumps on tables and furniture, drinks coffee and lights cigarettes. Fortunately, he wears disposable nappies under the overalls, so mess is generally under control.
Trevor is smart. He can do more than just peel bananas. In fact, he’s quite a celebrity. In his younger days, he made public appearances and was even in TV commercials with celebrity Morgan Fairchild (Eloise Snape). However, his fame has now waned, and work has dried up. He cries out “Where is the work?”. Even the locals in his hometown are getting weary of his unrestrained antics which are now posing a threat to public health.
You see, Trevor recently helped himself to Sandra’s car keys and managed to take her car for a spin. Now Sherriff Jim (David Lynch) has been called in to get Trevor moved to a formal animal sanctuary. He has the support of new neighbour Ashley (Ainslie McGlynn), heavily pregnant and who doesn’t share Sandra’s affection for the primate.
And so, it’s a story that builds to a mighty climax. Trevor even has an assessment from Vet Jerry (Jemwel Daneo). He also has a telepathic connection with fellow celebrity chimp Oliver (Garth Holcombe), who now resides with his ‘human’ wife and ‘half human’ children in Florida.
This show is ably put together by Director Shaun Rennie. Most of the action takes place in the lounge and kitchen of Sandra’s home and there is a ‘kennel’ for Trevor outside. Shaun lets Trevor have free rein of movement. You can’t keep a good chimp still, so Jamie Oxenbould as Trevor moves around randomly, almost chaotically, which keeps the audience engrossed.
There is no chimp suit with a man inside. Jamie has mastered all the mannerisms of his primate alter-ego and talks directly to us, sharing his thoughts and feelings, as if with the understanding of a three-year-old. His simpleness is both captivating and endearing. You can’t help but feel sorry for this poor old chimp.
All the players clearly enjoyed their roles. There seemed to be a tight camaraderie between them. I found their enthusiasm infectious. The American accents were perfect. Actors Garth Holcombe and Eloise Snape were particularly animated and flamboyant. Di Adams, Jemwel Danao, David Lynch and Ainslie McGlynn had more serious character roles which they performed superbly.
Themes of understanding, tolerance and communication were prevalent throughout the performance. Sometimes what we show is not what we mean; sometimes what we say is not what we feel – simple lessons via Trevor the chimp.
The creative team did a fantastic job as well. There were lots of props which Trevor made use of and effects such as mist were perfect for ‘dream’ scenes.
All in all, Trevor was a unique and creative production. To entertain with humour, sympathy and thought-provoking messages with an animal as the central character is quite an achievement. Perhaps Trevor best sums up the mood of the play when he yells “Drug me and take me to Hollywood”.