In the vein of the TV sitcom Seinfeld (1989-1998) and perhaps best summed up as “much ado about nothing”, Untitled Three-Hander deals with several inconsequential issues. Mind you, at the heart of this new work by Hayden Hayes is human connection and a desire to be wanted and needed. The title is a deliberate misnomer. Untitled Three-Hander is a four-hander, with primary concentration on three characters.
Those played by Hayden Hayes and Declan Clifford are housemates. Both are pig-headed and set in their ways. Dressed up to the nines (he is wearing a tuxedo), Hayes is preparing to meet a girl he broke up with nearly seven years ago (a role filled by Abigail King). He’s desperate to get back together with her. Clifford urges him to play it cool, but Hayes refuses to listen.
Clifford too has met a lass, Rillo (Lizzie Ballinger) that he likes and she’s about to drop over. When she does, Clifford makes it particularly awkward for her. After indicating she wants to keep things casual, Rillo rethinks her stance. Before you know it, she has moved in with the boys and is playing mother hen. But these are lads that are forever sweating the small stuff and their petty bickering is becoming tiresome.
The intent in Untitled Three-Hander is clear, but laugh aloud moments are in short supply. Several of the circuitous arguments between the chaps become quite testing for the audience. I wanted to enjoy the play more than I did. The writing needed to be tighter, cleverer and more substantive (yes, even though, the interactions are often about the inane). I felt it was overtalked. Often less is more. I also thought the pacing could have been quickened. Direction is from Tony Rive.
Further, none of the three central players is particularly likeable (I was looking for greater warmth) … and they come across as vacuous. Sixty minutes without interval would have done me. Performance-wise, Lizzie Ballinger stood out, although I didn’t buy the supposed chemistry she had with Declan Clifford. I appreciated the slick scene changes, which worked seamlessly. Also, the program, written US Playbill style (in this case with fake ads) is a hoot.
In summary then, conceptually Untitled Three-Hander is solid, but it needs work. It is on at The MC Showroom until 6th August, 2023.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- Powder Room (The MC Showroom) – theatre review
- The Charade (The MC Showroom) – theatre review
- The Wrong Horse (The MC Showroom) – theatre review
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.