The Actor’s Nightmare: A Dream Student Production

by Eloise Wajon

In terms of art, whether that be writing, performance, or visual medium, I’m open to pretty much any kind of theme. I’m always down to learn something new or find a fresh take on an old topic. There is one exception to this, however. I’ve got my own term for it! I hate things about doing-the-thing. I especially hate things about how-hard-it-is-to-do-the-thing. I can’t stand books about writer’s block, movies about development hell, or art about the wrath of commercial galleries. I’m not quite sure where this prejudice comes from. Perhaps it’s the lasting residue of being raised by boomers; the ring of “There are children starving in Africa you know!” bouncing around my skull. Maybe they remind me of my own unpulled bootstraps and tendency towards incessant whining. This past Friday, I sought to challenge my aversion and crowded into Studio 1 at Esme Timbery Creative Lab. 

Coordinated by New South Wales University Theatrical Society (NUTS), The Actor’s Nightmare was a pleasantly absurd romp carried by a charming and enthusiastic cast. The original playscript was written by Christopher Durang in 1981 and chronicles an accountant’s peril as he is mistaken for an understudy and forced to perform leading roles in several productions. I assume the actor’s nightmare is to be unprepared for a performance, or perhaps it’s to be an accountant. 

Nonetheless, The Actor’s Nightmare plays with a couple of clever themes, some more broadly relatable to the general public such as post-religious emotional qualms, but other parts of the play seem laser-focused on connecting with those in the ‘biz. The meta-meta aspects of the play are balanced out nicely by its experimentation with magical realism, allowing a point of entry and enjoyment for us non-actors. 

The performance of the actors is by far the stand-out quality of this performance. As an ensemble the cast is bubbling with enthusiasm and love of the craft - that “I’m-just-happy-to-be-here” energy unique to student productions can be found in spades here. I was particularly enthralled by Talia O’Neill’s performance as Sarah, the leading lady in each in-universe production with an almost asphyxiating stage presence. Roy Wallace-Cant as bumbling everyman/silly little normie George Spelvin deserves a special mention for his impeccable comic timing, a crucial aspect of easing the audience into the show’s ebb and flow.

Once I exited the theatre I felt that I had warmed somewhat to my former thematic nemesis, the thing-about-doing-the-thing. 

Keep an eye out for next week’s release of 10 GIFS That Sum Up How Hard It Is To Be A Blitz Sub-Editor! Do you guys like The Office?

Eloise Wajon is a second-year Fine Arts/Arts student, majoring in Creative Writing. In her spare time, she likes to play video games and defend Taylor Swift in the comments section of Buzzfeed articles.

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