Review: 80 Minutes No Interval

Provoking, strange and comic

By Samuel Barson 

Never have I seen a show like 80 Minutes No Interval. Despite it’s slow and uncertain start, the play develops a frenetic pace, unhinged sense of humour and obscure narrative that is unparalleled – even for a unique theatre maker like Travis Cotton.

The play tells the story of Louis (played by writer/director Cotton), a failing novelist turned theatre reviewer whose history of bad luck has not only prevented him from reaching his dreams but continues to leave a trail of destruction behind him.

Cotton is the perfect tragic hero. He navigates Louis’ misfortune with a grit and commitment that leaves the audience wincing each time the character inevitably fails. Typically when individuals decide to write, direct and act, they are unable to do all three to an equally good degree, but in this case Cotton excels in all areas. His work on this show is only another confirmation that he is one of Melbourne’s most valued and well respected theatre makers.

Rounding out the rest of the cast in a variety of supporting roles is Martelle Hammer, Robin Goldsworthy, Tom O’Sulivan and Tamzen Hayes. All give Cotton great support in their respective roles, but the cast member that leaves the greatest impact is Goldsworthy. His performance as publisher Dan Kurtz was the finest comedic performance I have ever seen on stage. Goldsworthy’s sense of timing, physicality and projection was nothing but perfect. He is definitely one to keep an eye on.

Brynna Lowen and Sarah Hall’s design was simple and served the play’s more absurd moments. Hamish Michael and John Collopy’s respective sound and lighting design excelled in illustrating the dreamlike (and more often than not nightmarish) sequences that Louis finds himself trapped in. The costume design complemented the play’s world and the flower display in the final scene was particularly effective and engaging.

I doubt that I will ever see a play like this again, and in a way I hope I never do. It’s very rare that a piece of art is able to be so uniquely captured and presented. A play of this intellect, strangeness and calibre deserves to live on in its own individual legacy. A must see for those who are seeking a refreshing and escapist experience in the theatre.

80 Minutes No Interval is being performed until 2 December at Theatre Works, St Kilda. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 03 9534 3388.

Photograph: James Terry