Reasonable Doubt ****

Assembly @ George Street, 1 – 25 August 2008

Reviewed for the The List, issue 610

Two former jurors reunite in a hotel room two years after a controversial hung verdict in this smart two-hander from Australian playwright Suzie Miller. Both harbour guilty secrets, and sex – initially top priority – is soon shelved in favour of a ‘striptease of truth’.

Miller’s script maintains a sense of climax throughout, skilfully teasing out revelation after revelation with barely a wasted word. Emma Jackson and Peter Phelps – both TV personalities in their native Australia – more than do justice to the text, but Jackson’s performance as the energetic Anna is so captivating that she overshadows her co-star, making his few flaws seem deeper by comparison.

Phelps plays the dour, mournful Mitchell with subtle intensity. His guilt stews silently and ominously, until either he chooses to release it in a measured stream or it explodes violently and uncontrollably. But, as the play progresses, it demands more and more frequent rapid emotional gear changes and Jackson is simply more adept at these than Phelps. She bubbles with a kind of eager remorsefulness that escapes in heartfelt, confessional waves. Both performances reveal important angles of the core theme – the guilty compulsion to confess – but where Phelps is merely compelling, Jackson is enchanting.

Written by Suzie Miller

Crew includes Guy Masterson (director) and Suzi Pack (assistant director)

Cast includes Emma Jackson (Anna) and Peter Phelps (Mitchell)

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