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4.3 Miles From Nowhere
Published on Wednesday, 17 August 2011

4 stars

Zoo (venue website)
5-15, 17-29 Aug, 3:00pm-4:00pm
Reviewed by Ellen Macpherson

 Recommended for age 12+ only.

With the folk music and fancy-dress costumes that are so very 1999, you hardly notice The Shakespeare Connection in 4.3 Miles From Nowhere. Its link to The Winter’s Tale is so subtle that it’s barely even worth mentioning the Bard. Still; despite this mild deception, this is still a charming, witty and ridiculously entertaining piece of theatre that I would have been more than happy to fork out a ten pound note to see.

It’s the story of four teenagers (and a random guy who is probably more of a university hipster, but marketed as the fifth teenager) who get lost in the woods on their way to a party. No, it’s not an incredibly original scenario, but it’s a plot line that’s always bound to reveal some interesting characters. What ensues is a mix of wonderful music, use of alcohol and illicit substances, and a quest for two couples to work out their love lives. As always, there are clashing personalities – with a typical idiotic teenage boy, an undeniable city girl (who misses her GHD terribly), a rich kid, an orphan and a drug-taking folk musician.

As one theatre-goer remarked on the way out: the whole play reminds you of a high-school drama class, complete with that one person who is always making music on something. I think its youth is the thing that keeps it so refreshing. The jokes, for instance, aren’t out of date like so many other productions that try to be cool. The venue is small, but well set out so that the whole cast (and music crew) can weave in and out of the room to make use of the space.

Sure, it’s not perfect. It loses its way in the middle with a bizzare five or so minute break to (I’m assuming) tell the story of two of the characters. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what was happening, but the scene’s fabulous folk music more than made up for the abruptness of it. And speaking of the music, it’s perhaps what lifts this production to achieve the fourth star; I would happily go to see any one of the musicians in their own concert, but the character Lucas is a particular standout, in both personality and musical ability. Strangely, he seems more Puckish than anything else, so perhaps they got caught reading a different Shakespeare play in reference.

All in all, it’s a fabulously entertaining show by a vibrant theatre company. It’s an afternoon well spent. If you’re skeptical about folk music, I’m fairly sure (from memory) there were no harmonicas in sight. I don’t pretend to be a massive fan of folk, but it fit the production well and it was definitely quality music. Just a tip: if you sit at the front you might get picked on. But I won’t ruin the surprise.

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