Lake Disappointment’s Lachlan Philpott and Luke Mullins see double at Carriageworks – Sydney Morning Herald
April 18, 2016
By Elissa Blake, Sydney Morning Herald
In the world of film, there are performers with great hands or perfect legs. Some have killer abs or a backside to die for. They may find themselves in a blockbuster movie acting with a superstar but they will never get to show their faces and are seldom credited for their work.
They are the body doubles and stand-ins – often actors themselves – who make a living from lending a shapely hand, breast or bum-cheek to movie stars lacking a particular genetic blessing or the time to shoot a close-up.
One such performer is the subject of a new play debuting at Carriageworks, Lake Disappointment, a one-man show co-written by Lachlan Philpott and Luke Mullins to explore themes of identity and the contemporary obsession with self-image.
Mullins plays a double waiting for a movie star, Kane, to turn up for a scene on a suspense thriller, Lake Disappointment. It is the last time the pair will work together before Kane makes a leap into action films. But what happens to a double when he is no longer needed?
Mullins and Philpott have met actors who have been asked to work as doubles. “They ended up not doing it, but we started to extrapolate from the idea what might have happened,” says Mullins. “What kind of journey would that be? It became a whole investigation into identity.”
The world of the double can be a strange one, says Philpott. “You might have to do something another actor can’t do, like ride a horse, or play the piano. And there are the sex scenes.
“But there are kookier things, like acting as a decoy. When a celebrity goes on holiday, for example, and they don’t want anyone to know about it, they will sometimes send their body double somewhere else in a very public way. Everyone thinks you’ve gone to Vanuatu but in fact you’re in Tahiti.”
Mullins and Philpott have known each other for years. Both studied at the Victorian College of the Arts in the late 1990s. Philpott’s recent plays include Truck Stop and Silent Disco and M.Rock, co-presented by the Sydney Theatre Company and the Australian Theatre for Young People. Mullins is a critically acclaimed actor whose credits include award-winning Belvoir productions of The Glass Menagerie and Angels in America and the STC’s Waiting for Godot.
Lake Disappointment is the first time they have worked as co-writers.
“Luke is an amazing actor but he also has really strong dramaturgical instincts,” says Philpott. “He is one of those actors who does a lot of work behind the scenes in terms of creative input into a production yet it doesn’t often get acknowledged.”
Inspired by the idea of doubles, twins and doppelgangers in literature ranging from William Shakespeare to Edgar Allen Poe, Lake Disappointment is an experiment in form and in storytelling.
“We’re exploring how you communicate pieces of information to an audience from a completely subjective point of view,” Mullins says. “We’ve resisted creating a concrete reality for this character to exist in. The world is created almost entirely through sound design [by James Brown]. It helps create a place where what the audiences sees, understands, believes or doesn’t believe can be played with.”
Stranger still, perhaps, this one-man show will be performed in one of the city’s largest theatre spaces, Carriageworks Bay 17.
“There is something about working on that scale I find really exciting,” Philpott says. “But when I first walked in there, I felt so terrified for Luke. It really does make you feel very small.”
“It is a huge space,” Mullins says. “But we’ll make it feel intimate before we crack it right open.”
Lake Disappointment is at Carriageworks from April 20-23.
Image: Lachlan Philpott and Luke Mullins investigate notions of celebrity and the challenges of being ordinary in an increasingly image-obsessed culture. Photo: James Brickwood