Directed by Lucinda Gleeson
Presented by Ocelot Productions and Griffin Independent
10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross
Season: 25 November – 12 December
Keith Richards helped to inspire an era with his wicked guitar riffs and drug-induced cool nonchalance, throughout his time with the Rolling Stones. Benito Di Fonzo pens his final work in a trilogy of mythological illustrations of artistic legends. This new Australian work is brought to the dynamic Griffin Theatre stage, under the directorial hand of Lucinda Gleeson. A Riff on Keef details ‘Keef’ Richards’ lifelong journey to discover the ultimate guitar chord. Partially based on truth and largely influenced by Di Fonzo’s imaginings, this story wouldn’t be the same without visitations by Keef’s relatives from the past, copious substance consumption and a healthy dose of Rastafari pirates.
Considering Keef’s greatness is akin with his musical affinity, it is fitting that this production employs music at every turn to tell the story, with sound design by Katelyn Shaw. The performers fill the room with sheer electricity every time they pick up an instrument, leaving you craving more at the close of each song. The cast are talented in abundance, convincing you of their aptitude as rock stars in every sense. As a cast of five who never seem to leave the stage, undertaking multiple character roles with a wild propensity for music, this show demands much of its performers and they do not disappoint. Terry Serio takes on the role of Keef, with an impressive semblance to the real Keith. He embodies the captivating charisma and hedonistic spiritualism of a man worthy of a cult-like following. Embracing the comedic qualities of the writing, Serio breathes life into the thoroughly amusing text. This production marks yet another delightful venture on the stage in Serio’s long career. Abe Mitchell’s performance is a highlight of the show, manifesting innumerable characters including Mick Jagger and Nick Cave. Each of these characterisations demonstrates an astounding likeness to the ‘real thing’ and Mitchell plays on this for hilarious results. The ravishing rock star look throughout the cast is achieved with ample gold glitter, leopard print and deep v-neck shirts, with costume and set design by Hugh O’Connor. The galvanising atmosphere achieved through the musical performances is heightened by use of a rotating stage and Sian James-Holland’s rich lighting design.
There is an allure that emanates from the personality of Keith Richards, making him an ideal subject of one of Di Fonzo’s fantastical myths. The theatrical result is somewhat surreal, deeply fascinating, and utterly consuming. An impeccable cast rises to the challenges set by the work with an irrepressible energy and magnetism in their performance. A Riff on Keef is infatuating, a work which will joyfully absorb you, one chord at a time.