Play Dead Theatre Presents TAPE

Close and claustrophobic thriller leaves nowhere to hide

By Amy Planner

Tape is a psychosomatic spectacle that pushes the boundaries of friendship and discovers there is always more than one truth when it comes to the past. Filled with about as much psychological drama as one hour can handle, Stephen Belber‘s one-act play throws you in the deep end and doesn’t apologise.


Set in a cheap motel room in Michigan, Tape examines the dramatic reunion of three high-school friends as they cross paths and reminisce about the seemingly unfortunate past. Vince is the drug-pushing truth-seeker with a broken heart; Jon, the moral filmmaker with an ostensibly immoral history; and Amy, the high-powered attorney with no time for games – well, mostly. When these high-school chums are reunited, their memories of the past collide as they struggle with that ever-illusive truth.

Stephen Belber deserves such supremely high praise for his hauntingly real dialogue and uncanny knack for saying just enough. In a play that is so well-paced and fraught with such naturalistic dialogue, the actors were set a difficult task and they smashed it all the way down Errol Street.

Adam Hetherington held Jon to the stern and initially unwavering brutality that he deserved and then fell so far into the character that his eventual unravelling was strikingly lifelike. Michael Mack, producer and lead actor as Vince, was fantastically unsettling – that’s a good thing, I promise. He transitioned seamlessly from the witty-tongued best bud in to a hyper-anxious cokehead with a point to prove. As Amy, Hester Van Der Vyver was a understated comparison at first but grew in to a subtle, almost psychotic player in this emotionally destructive warzone.

This small cast reached in to the most deep-seated corners of their psyches and what came out of it was a truly enthralling performance with so much depth, it barely seemed like a play: rather, an eavesdrop on a vivid intimate conversation.

The only brief lapsing moment came during the fight scene; slightly clumsy wrestling  proved a little too lumbering for the intimate space. However, there was a well-timed hint of comedic relief with a sort of pillow fight in the middle. But the actors and director, Jennifer Sarah Dean, should still be commended on the literal hard-hitting moments that were far too real to not leave a mark.

On entering the intimate, converted hotel room, the set seemed a little dated; however, as the play indicated, the realisation of cheap urban accommodation meant it couldn’t have been more fitting or well put together by set designer Aline Brugel.

Tape’s heaving hour of dramatic warfare doesn’t spare a moment and will have you encapsulated in its intimate intensity for every second; it is a truly unique and powerful production with talent oozing from the walls.


Venue: The Court House Hotel, 86-90 Errol Street, North Melbourne

Season: April 27th – May 7th. Wed-Thurs 7.30pm, Fri-Sat 8.00pm

Tickets: $25 Adult, $22 Concession