Would you donate your kidney to someone you met over Twitter?
Tommy Murphy and David Berthold explore this conundrum in Belvoir’s latest offering, Mark Colvin’s Kidney, based on an absurdly true tale of friendship triggered by the 2011 News of the World hacking scandal.
Mary-Ellen Fields is Elle Macpherson’s business advisor in London, accused of leaking confidential information to the press. Sent away to rehab, she is misdiagnosed as an alcoholic and consequently loses her job and reputation. Years later, it is revealed that the leaks were a result of the now-infamous hacking scandal and esteemed Australian journalist, Mark Colvin, reaches out to Fields for an interview. This leads to a pen pal-esque friendship which results in Fields offering Colvin her kidney when he becomes desperately ill.
Sarah Peirse and John Howard do remarkable jobs as Fields and Colvin respectively, effectively weaving a believable friendship across Twitter, text, phone and email. Supporting cast, Peter Carroll, Kit Esuruoso, Chris Stollery and Helen Thomson, all offer rich performances with Carroll a particularly delightful addition whose non-verbal acting over a plate of linguini left the audience in stitches.
Though heartwarming for the altruistic gesture of the organ transplant, the play itself misses the emotional gravitas it aspires to evoke. Text running across digital screens allow the actors to leap between time and place but the abrupt sound and lighting transitions paired with the peculiar pacing of dialogue undermine the potential dramatic impact.
Until Apr 2, varied performance times, Belvoir St Theatre, 18-25 Belvoir Street, Surry Hills. $49-$72. Tickets & info: www.belvoir.com.au
Reviewed by Emily Shen.