The world is ending; the apocalypse has arrived. As you come to terms with your inevitable doom, the last thing you want is to re-hash the past mistakes of a failed relationship with a former flame. This cataclysmic infusion of derailed love with humanity’s end is explored in Perth writer/director Scott McArdle’s Coincidences at the End of Time showing from Wednesday as a part of Subiaco Theatre Festival.
Inspired by life’s stranger-than-fiction ‘coincidences,’ the play draws inspiration from McArdle’s own past failed relationship. Sitting in a café they used to call ‘theirs,’ he experienced an awkward run-in with an ex.
“On the final day before the café closed for good, she walked in. We decided to sit down, and take that as a bit of fate, and talk about everywhere that went wrong.”
Transplanting this café setting from merely closing its doors to the world closing in around it, Coincidences follows Peter as he sips coffee and accepts the world’s end in his favourite café when his ex-girlfriend Rachel bursts in and they inevitably explore their relationship’s demise.
Originally performed to sold out audiences at The Blue Room Theatre in 2015, the play will be revived with a new cast and refreshed script. The reinvigorated piece includes seasoned actors Nick Maclaine and Arielle Gray’s portrayal of Peter and Rachel.
Gray described her character Rachel as very ‘human’ and multifaceted, simultaneously flawed, confident, fun and vulnerable.
“She’s a normal person who’s going through a range of different crises, from the end of the world through to the end of her relationship,” she said.
“He’s a guy having the worst day of his life, on the last day of his life. Then, in some ways, maybe the best as well,” Maclaine conceptualised Peter as a ‘flawed’ character whose passion is redeeming.
Nick Maclaine and Arielle Gray reinvigorate Coincidences at the End of Time Credit: Lizzy Wharton
As the apocalypse forms a microcosm for the end of Peter and Rachel’s relationship, McArdle suggests it also functions to trap these characters in the fact that they have nothing to lose forces them to re-hash their relationship in an honest manner.
“That outside of this room nothing else existed, nothing else mattered. And that can be how a break up can feel at times. It feels so end of the world,” he said.
The play’s transformation mirrors the growth in McArdle’s personal and professional life. Whilst retaining its essence, under the guidance of mentor Finegan Kruckemeyer, McArdle has re-written eighty percent of the dialogue to take on a more honest, less ‘cliché’ and ‘Hollywood,’ form.
“I wanted it to evolve with me. I wrote it three years ago, it needed to change. I have changed as an artist.”
McArdle believes that honing in on the moments that actually matter in relationships has added to the play’s authenticity. He said: “There are definitely moments of flashbacks in this new version that weren’t in the old, that are more sobering. Those small moments that you hang onto.”
The inevitability of drawing on their own past relationship experiences has clearly influenced Maclaine and Gray’s performances.
“There’s a scene which tracks very closely to a situation in a relationship that I had. I think there are definitely things we are tapping into and bring to these situations,” Maclaine admitted.
Whilst Gray mused the inevitability of an actor’s past life experiences consciously or unconsciously infiltrating a performance, she admitted that the differences in her and Rachel’s experiences are what makes it fun.
“You get to discover how this character reacts in that situation and find something new which is exciting as well.”
Mirroring the difficulties of any observer of a broken relationship, Maclaine hopes the audience will refrain from taking Rachel or Peter’s side: “I would much rather have them having some empathy for both characters.”
Gray added: “I hope that people that watch it laugh with the moments of joy, and relate to the moments of difficulty. At the end of the day, what more could you ask from an audience than to go with you on a journey”
McArdle hopes, amidst this apocalyptic journey, that the audience recognises Coincidences at the End of Time as a truthful and painfully honest exploration of love, loss, and closure.
“Love isn’t enough at times. Relationships are work, communication is important, but not to give up,” he said. “There is always hope, even at the end of the world, and in the smallest things you can find a refuge.”
Coincidences at the End of Time is showing from Wed 29th June to Sat 2nd July at Subiaco Art Centre.
Purchase tickets via Ticketek:http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/Show.aspx?sh=COINCIDE16