An Unfortunate Woman | Darlinghurst Theatre CompanyLeft: Nicola Gunn. Photo - Philip Dempsey. Cover: Emma J Hawkins and Keith Lim. Photo - Heidrun Lohr

If you want to see what sets theatre apart from film and television, come and see the two shows currently playing at the Darlo. Both pieces are unique in their use of movement and  space. One More Than One uses rectangular boxes, light, video projections and electronic music, where as the one woman play, An Unfortunate Woman uses just a single chair.

One More Than One is a piece of movement based theatre starring Emma J. Hawkins, a red-headed dwarf and Keith Lim a gangly six foot Asian. Both performances strike you as being incredibly agile in completely different ways. Hawkins is almost crab like yet manages to pack herself into the boxes with fluid movement. Lim places one lolloping leg in front of the other as his gangly form manoeuvres its way around the stage. Both manage to use their unique body shapes in a variety of ways as they interact with the boxes and with each other. Anyone who sees a dwarf giving a six foot man a piggy back is unlikely to forget it.

The electronic score by Jon Creenaune ranges from shimmering ambience to crisp mechanical beats. This brings to life the geeky online gaming world of Lim and adds to the overall strangeness.

The piece is about the developing relationship between the two despite the prejudices they have towards each other. The stereotypes of child-like dwarf and computer geek Asian are adequately conveyed through movement. There is no need for words.

Yet the performers choose to include extensive  dialogue about the need to look past stereotypes and see the individual. They ask demeaning questions of each other, “Do you get child fares on airplanes?” “How did you manage to fit on the boat coming over here?” This quickly becomes tiresome and preachy.

The piece fails to shed new light on the cliché of “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, but succeeds as a piece of strikingly original movement theatre.

Nicola Gunn’s An Unfortunate Woman is based largely on mime, with dialogue used to build, character and narrative. This only works if the audience can quickly identify where the characters are and what they are doing. Gunn pulls this off in near perfect fashion and the result is simply brilliant theatre.   

This is a day in the life of several elderly and well to do English types. Herbert is a psychiatrist who plays both doctor and lover to a woman; known ominously as The American. Meanwhile his mother is organising a party for him but his father is less than enthusiastic. Let’s just say he has his reasons. Then there is Stanley Trundle who is having trouble with his authoritarian boss, seen standing above the chair with head resting on hands in a most imposing manner. Meanwhile, Stanley pleads as he stands humbly in front of the chair. The lives of all characters intermingle as the play draws towards a blackly comic conclusion. Don’t worry if you don’t follow everything.

Gunn’s use of space and character is the real highlight of the night. We are transported from the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages, to a psychiatrist’s office. Each location is made vivid on the audience’s mind. All this with the use of only a single chair. Her waist coat and shiny gold tie suit these prim and proper characters. She has large brown eyes which dart around as quickly as she changes characters.

It is when you see performers using the same stage in so many different ways that you know you’ve had a magical night at the theatre.

Darlinghurst Theatre Company, Atypical Theatre Company and KidsTheseDays present
One More Than One

Venue: Darlinghurst Theatre | 19 Greenknowe Ave, Potts Point NSW
Dates: Thursday 4 October to Saturday 20 October
Times: 7pm Tuesday to Saturday, 5pm Sunday
Tickets: $30/$25
Bookings: 8356 9987


Darlinghurst Theatre Company presents
An Unfortunate Woman

Venue: Darlinghurst Theatre | 19 Greenknowe Ave, Potts Point NSW
Dates: Wednesday 3 October to Saturday 27 October
Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 8:30pm, Sundays at 6:30pm
Tickets: $30/$25
Bookings: 8356 9987

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