Death Match is a challenging, sweat-driven new play by local playwright Morgan Rose. Not only physical theatre, the work is a probing look into the competitive spirit and human psyche when winning is the ultimate goal. Director Katrina Cornwall has been working with a fine and dedicated group of performers from the Monash Centre for Performance and Theatre for this creative workout.

Death Match is a sporting metaphor for life and how we deal with the challenges of success and failure. The stage is an indefinable vivid blue sporting field and the scoring board is a projection. As the first competitor enters, she scans the field with other players soon following. A vigorous match ensues where players compete with no ball in sight. After each round a player is announced out while the other competitors gleefully gesticulate and continue the game.

There is a lot to be said about sports and theatre but l felt this play’s intended meaning did not shine through, although it does succeed in drawing on the emotional foibles of the human character. The players are real people with human flaws rather than glorified super-humans. Despite the intense physical demands of this production, Cornwall has managed to direct a sensitive and moving scenario where the characters reveal their true selves and lay bare their dreams, fears and passions.

Physical theatre is a challenge in its own right, and the performers excelled with generous enthusiasm. Despite Cornwall having to direct a play with thematic weakness, the entire Death Match team has managed to put together an engaging piece of theatre.

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