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Above left: Arka Das, Drayton Morley, Tara Morice.

Above right: Tara Morice, Drayton Morley.

All photos: Natalie Boog

Tara Morice, Arka Das.

Tara Morice.

POSTED: 02 APRIL 2010

Animals out of Paper, by Rajiv Joseph

Ensemble Theatre | Kirribilli, Sydney | Until 24 April

Origami seems an unlikely, some might reckon even absurd, subject for a play, especially when you fold in (sorry) a young rapper with the uncanny genius to turn sheets of paper into almost anything at will.

But Rajiv Joseph has woven an absolutely charming, touchingly funny and captivating tale around Ilana (Tara Morice), a world-renowned origamist trying to come to terms with a failed marriage, the desertion of her three-legged dog, and a seemingly terminal case of folder’s block.

Enter Andy (Drayton Morley), the dorky, finger-tied, blessings-recording treasurer of American Origami, purportedly chasing overdue fees, but in reality besotted with Ilana, and also seeking a mentor for the highly troubled aforesaid rapper Suresh (Arka Das).

While matters origami build the bones for Animals out of Paper, it is the personal interactions, the human weaknesses, the universal quest for love, companionship and understanding that provide the flesh.

Though all three characters are obviously carrying a deal of baggage, it’s mainly pretty easygoing light entertainment during the first act, with quite whimsical humour and some deft touches of tenderness as Ilana responds to Andy’s boyish doting and Suresh appears to be coming to terms with his demons.

After interval, though, things become tenser and darker as jealousies, desires, insecurities and resentments seep to surface and threaten all three individual relationships.

It’s hardly surprising that such strong performances come from Morice and Morley. They’re two well known, highly experienced hands of Australian theatre and film.

The real revelation is the scintillating performance from the young Arka Das, making his Ensemble debut. His is a talent well worth following.

Director Mark Kilmurry has again shown that three times one can easily equal at least four or five, especially when people as skilful as Graham Maclean (stage designer) and Bernie Tan (lighting designer) provide such a vibrant space to work in.

And a special mention must go to consultant Michael Clonaris — surely the first time that an origami artist has made a theatrical list of credits.

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