Set in 1980’s Manhattan, Inky is a noir comedy in which the façade of flawless and affluent domesticity unwinds slowly, but stings like a bee.
Rinne Groff’s Inky tells the story of Barbara and Greg’s crumbling, “love-starved” relationship and the only thing capable of making their world turn: Money. Motivated by their phobia of poverty - or, at least the appearance of it - Barbara and Greg decide to work full throttle to beat their escalating debts and hire a “bargain” nanny named Inky to take care of their children in the meantime. Inky is remunerated with food and board at Barbara and Greg’s apartment, despite proffering only sketchy information about her past in Eastern Europe and speaking rather confused English. Channeling the determination and verbal gusto of her obsession, Mohammed Ali, Inky bounces across the stage throwing punches and mouthing off in spite of her limited English, eventually breaking the ice-thin veneer of Barbara and Greg’s domestic “bliss”.
The catalytic Inky is wonderfully embodied by Kellie Jones. Awkward, innocent and aptly out of place, Jones renders Inky as an endearing and questionable “heroine”. The interplay between Jones and the dysfunctional Manhattan couple, played by Eleanor Howlett and Roderick Cairns, generates a rumbling tension which builds throughout the play, ultimately blurring the rivalries between Inky, Barbara and Greg.
Rinne Groff’s witty mechanics of dialogue, imbued with revealing miscommunications and comical misspeaks, careen into the language barrier which exists between Inky and her employers. As suspicion is cast over Inky’s obsession with Mohammad Ali and her fascination with prize fighting, the violence harboured within the droning monotony and frustrations of Barbara and Greg’s daily life is unleashed. As the play unravels themes of greed, fantasies of grandeur and soured ambitions expose the characters for what they really are.
Inky is divided into fifteen scenes (the number of rounds in a championship boxing match) which are signified by the ringing of a boxing fight bell at the commencement of each new scene. Emily Collett’s set design, which incorporates boxing ring ropes wrapped around the set, pertinently delineate the vision of the play. Director Jacqueline Low makes clever use of the sleek minimalist aesthetics afforded by the set, entwining the movement of the actors with the play’s wider commentary about familial struggles. During particularly wounding exchanges, the actors exit the stage by lifting the ropes, triggering the imagery of a boxing match and evoking the extended metaphor of Inky which likens family life, family relationships and domesticity to a boxing match.
Inky is an absorbing and thought provoking portrayal of the priorities and cravings which dictate our lives; often floating beneath the radar, before something unexpectedly snaps us to attention.
Complete Works Theatre Company presents the Australian premiere of
By Rinne Groff
Venue: Theatreworks | 14 Acland St, St Kilda (Map 2P Ref K6)
Dates: Thurs 22 May – Sun 8 June
Times: Wed – Sat 8pm, Sun 6pm
Tickets: $26 Full, $22 Con and Groups 10+, $15 Preview
Bookings: 03 9534 3388 or www.theatreworks.org.au