The play opens with the terrifying loss of a child in Disneyland. The child is David, a seven year old on holiday from Australia with his mother Robyn (Catherine Terracini), who in the wake of her relationship breakdown with David’s father, has decided that the two of them need a childlike escape from reality. But their dream trip turns into a nightmare when David vanishes inexplicably in the park. While he is eventually found, a gaping hole is left inside them both that persists into David’s adult years, where they continue to be haunted by the mysterious loss of those countless hours during which something unthinkable may have happened.
The narrative shifts artfully back and forward through time as we witness the adult David - played with exquisite and intelligent skill by Matthew Walker - grapple with the missing memories of that disturbing day.
It’s an inventive and complex script that requires a high level of focus from its actors, and indeed its audience, as the characters morph between lyrical narrative devices, who speak elegantly written and poetic prose, and flesh-and-blood people who interact on the stage. And for the most part it works. When the play hits its stride we are transported to a world rich in imagery and atmosphere which is much like watching a novel - if you can imagine such a thing. The performances are all strong, particularly the older Robyn (Diana Mclean) who’s consummate ability to shift between the poignant and playful make her a stand out in this production.
There’s an interesting an considered approach to the set design (James Croke) that supports the play’s themes, as the stage is filled with Tupperware containers which serve to remind us of the very human urge to seal, protect, and contain things that we find unpleasant but can’t let go of. The Sound design (Stephen Conn) is suitably creepy with it’s use of familiar Disney themes including ‘It’s a Small World’ that send shivers up the spine when juxtaposed with the dark subject matter.
Katrina Douglas’ direction is in harmony with the script and helps to smooth over some of the more difficult transitions that result from the fractured narrative. She helps to guide us through the murky terrain with a gentle sensitivity that is assured.
It’s not a comfortable play, but be prepared to go with it. It’s confronting, and profoundly sad - but herein lies it’s power. Be prepared also for a long one-act play that really is in need of an interval, if only just to let the audience breathe and shake off the dark shadows that loom within it.
Pussycatomoko and Griffin Theatre Company present the World Premiere of
by Lachlan Philpott
Venue: SBW Stables Theatre | 10 Nimrod St, Kings Cross
Season: 1 – 24 May
Times: Monday at 6:30pm. Tuesday to Saturday at 8pm.
Prices: Under 30 $25, Concession/Preview $22, Senior Group $25, Full $29
Bookings: MCA TIX 1300 306 776 or online at www.griffintheatre.com.au