Given this is a fringe performance, one might think that a show about ambition, sustainability and love might be a touchy subject, but that's not something that Joel I. Thomas is shying away from with "Buddy". The one-hour romance introduces us to Keenan (played by Lucas Haugh) and Jackson (played by Steven Glyde) - Keenan an ambitious but emotionally unstable musician working in a cafe to barely make ends meet, Jackson a secretary in a law firm who has reached his goals and just wants to enjoy life. Questioning the value of following your dreams versus sacrificing them for love and an ordinary life style are at the forefront, making room for some interesting themes as well as an endearing love story.
And it doesn't take long to be totally won over by that love story. Haugh and Glyde have incredible chemistry and give performances that can stand on their own as being layered and emotional and still bounce off each other. Haugh's performance is not the eager starry-eyed hidden gem that one initially imagines, but recluse, shy, and grounded, especially in comparison to the energetic and eccentric Glyde. Within the first couple of lines I was hooked and rooting for them.
They are also helped by Thomas' dynamic direction - the movement and blocking keeps the stage image interesting whilst staying organic and believable, while the dialogue flows and breaks and stutters in perfect harmony to create tension. What really makes the show work is that there is no obvious person to side with when discussing the difficulties of trying to choose between a comfortable lifestyle and a dream. It would be easy to make it look like either Keenan's ambition or Jackson's impatience was getting in the way of their blooming relationship, but preference is never shown to either, allowing even the most jaded of cynics and ambitious of dreamers to understand the others' perspective in this scenario.
"Buddy" does not aim beyond making a love story with themes of ambition, but in that it achieve a show that takes the time to make you care just long enough to make it sting when there is conflict between them. This a story and characters that can move anyone, this show will speak especially to artists and performers trying to achieve their dreams against the expectations of the world, and to those that love them. Four stars.
Whispers from the crowd:
"I enjoyed the humour and the ending. The acting was really good especially from Jackson."
"I liked it, it felt very local"