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REVIEW: The wheel of fortune favours certain actors in La Ronde, The Bunker

La Ronde, Alex Vlahos, Amanda Wilkin, Lauren Samuels and Leemore Marrett Jr (courtesy Ray Burmiston) 11
La Ronde, Alex Vlahos, Amanda Wilkin, Lauren Samuels and Leemore Marrett Jr Photo: Ray Burmiston

At the back of the stage at The Bunker is a 'wheel of fortune' with the four cast members photos (Leemore Marrett Jr, Lauren Samuels, Alex Vlahos and Amanda Wilkin). The wheel is spun to determine which two play the first scene in Max Gill's adaptation of Arthur Schnitler's 19th century play about sex and morals.

For each subsequent scene one actor remains while their acting partner is determined by the spin of the wheel with just two photos to choose from so you don't get the same pairing twice.There are apparently more than three thousand combinations and the actors are prepared for them all.

I wonder if they ever imagined that one actor wouldn't get to stand on the stage - or certainly not by the spin of the wheel? It became a thing with the audience willing the wheel to stop on Leemore Marrett Jr's picture so he would have a turn but in the end - whether planned or by contrivance he stepped on only for the two final short scenes.

It also became a thing because you can't help but wonder how rehearsals worked and what scenes would be like with different actors for example 'would all the actors have done that accent for that character?' or 'how would that have played out if it had been a gay couple?' Having Leemore sat on the sidelines did frustratingly limit the combinations.

When I've seen productions of La Ronde before they have examined - or at least attempted to examine - sex and relationships. This production, given its wheel of fortune casting device doesn't feel that it really does that. Instead you get a jumble of scenes with sex and the odd phrase or word as the common denominator. Some work really well and are laugh out loud funny but others fall flat or felt sluggish.

In the end what you get is an interesting story telling device that outweighs the interest generated in the actual narrative. It is entertaining to a point but only to a point and I think F*cking Men at the King's Head did a better job of transporting Schnitzler's play to a contemporary setting. I'm giving it three and a half stars.

It's at The Bunker until March 11 and it's 95 minutes long

Other productions I've seen:

Lots of shagging under sheets in the White Bear's production in 2011

F*cking Men, a 21st century adaptation set around gay relationships, King's Head Theatre, 2015.

 

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