Fred by Beatrix Christian develops its characters and situations with consummate skill and invention. The writer uses characters we recognise instantly, but examines them in a way that is predictable and leads to compromising situations. After viewing Fred, you are left with two questions; is there really any meaning in it or is it just designed purely for entertainment. The piece portrays certain themes (for example; love, death, sex and lust) throughout the performance but doesn t examine them thoroughly enough to give the viewer a sense of realisation after seeing it. The themes are portrayed in cheesy tasteless situations and aren t really comical. You see each event fold out after the next, each one more inane than the last.
You automatically see that the characters are all based on stereotypical personas, which leads the production along a path that is easily predictable and unchallenging. The production forms a classical Police sitcom / detective novel which tries desperately to grab laughs but fails. However, the set designer must receive credit, because due to the lack of substance this piece has, one of the only things keeping it afloat is its innovative use of lighting and sets. The set of white doors (which is one of the main features of the set) are used to symbolize the gates of heaven. They are used for the Star City Casino and for the Morgue that shows the realisation that yes heaven would be great but there is still the fact that you die.
The green shag pile carpet covering one of the walls, is an imaginative feature of the backyard setting, used to represent grass, and the use of the fold-up Hills Hoist are worthy of mention. Every scene is done in the same area; the use of lighting is used to change the location, it developed barriers. I found this to be quite inventive. The use of the body as a main character is used throughout the performance; the titl of the piece is FRED after all.
Pamela finds the body at the start and then decides to visit him at the morgue, then Fred is positioned neatly in the left hand corner of the stage for the rest of the show as a reminder of how close we all could be to death. The characters are all typical stereotypes and each scene is basically the same; each stereotype clashing with the opposite one in a ploy to try and make this dull mess interesting too bad it doesn t work. Taking into consideration the script is lacking essence; the cast portray their conventional roles well. The costumes used are representative of each character. (e.g. The brown suit and bright red shirt of the sleazy car salesman, the typical car salesman attire), and the pair of wings worn by Pamela Maude throughout the performance is a good representation of her character. Pamela is a girl that is so addicted in Mystery Novels that she becomes so embroiled in the goings on of the whole Fred fiasco that she becomes a bit irrational.
The whole wings element is used as a point of establishing the fantasy side of her persona and the story. The final scene was kind of bizarre though, all of a sudden they had worked out their differences; Monica is pregnant to the gay detective sent to investigate the case of Fred, Pamela, the mystery novel freak is pregnant to Barry the car salesman, Antoinette and Miles (Detective) are together and Rod and are all happy and everything seems fine. So all these events that occurred were pointless and the story went nowhere. Throw in some colourful language and what do you have A fruitless piece of art that really has no relevance to its audience or anyone for that matter.
If this is a representation of what Australian society in the suburbs is supposed to be then it must be a pretty dull existence. Considering this was Directed by the Fabulous Mr Gow, I was expecting something skilfully prepared and one of the most assured stage comedies I have seen for a long while like the reviews said. Instead we received a mundane play that you would find on SBS late one Saturday night. The quote by Alison Coates is quite correct in some cases; it is though there is Screen characters in search of a play, immediately after seeing it you have to look at the two paths you can take for your opinion.
1. Is it deeply symbolic Does it represent life in the suburbs 2. Or is it a dog's breakfast of a play Frankly, number 2 is my choice, I found it having no relevance whatsoever except for the few themes it lightly touched over and would find it a waste of time if you were considering going to see it on a Saturday night, I would rather flick the TV to SBS and see what's on.