Photos - Brett Boardman
Whether it is the story of a nation in disarray, buckling under the pressure of disease, tribal warfare, and desperate poverty; the commanding performances of a skilful and intelligent ensemble; or the poetry of a writer that successfully blends everyday slang with poetically elevated, interrupted phrasing, this production will offer you a rare and wonderful experience.
Stoning Mary, written by up-and-coming British playwright Debbie Tucker Green, interweaves the story of three couples struggling with a brutal reality in which sickness, suffering, violence and death make up the central experiences of everyday life. A husband and wife fight bitterly over a single prescription which will purchase only one set of the lifesaving medicine they both need. A mother and father argue and grieve over their son who has become a child soldier. Two sisters try to come to terms with the fact that one will soon be stoned to death because so few people signed a petition demanding her life be spared.
If the desperate situation of any number of disadvantaged regions around the world seems far removed from our world here in Australia, Tucker Green's script serves to make it relevant to us by placing the stories of these regions in a local, domestic setting that is real and pertinent to the everyday Sydneysider. But what could easily have been a pontificating session of finger-wagging is instead a vital, intriguing production.
Tucker Green's script creates poetry through half-finished sentences, and abrupt, abortive remarks that are swallowed, choked down, or trail off still unspoken. The beauty in the sputtering rhythm is recognised and skilfully evoked in this production by a talented ensemble of actors who demonstrate the intelligence and subtlety needed to bring harrowing, emotional situations to life without overplaying them. The cast walks this line with great skill, and the intensity and energy in the performance delivered compelling viewing without ever falling into melodrama.
The playwright also stipulates that each production must be performed only by white actors, and must be set in the country in which it was performed. Director Lee Lewis adds to this effect by drawing a particular suburban, Aussie style of speech and tone from the actors, which gives a sense of the familiar and domestic for the audience.
Having seen and been impressed by last year's Belvoir Downstairs production 2000 Feet Away, also directed by Lee Lewis, it has been a great experience to see more of her work - it would seem Lewis's productions are well worth looking out for.
Tony Blair has commented that “If what was happening in Africa today was happening in any other part of the world, there would be such a scandal and clamour that governments would be falling over themselves to act in response”.
Perhaps plays like Stoning Mary can help us navigate the uncomfortable truth that these kinds of situations are not something to be ignored.
A Frogbattleship and Griffin Stablemates Australian premiere
By Debbie Tucker Green
Venue: SBW Stables Theatre | 10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross
Dates: 30 May - 21 June 2008
Times: Mon 6.30pm, Tues – Sat 8pm, Sat Mat 2pm on final Sat performance only
Prices: $29 Full, Senior/Group $25, $22 Concession/previews, $25 under 30 years, Pay-What-You Can Mondays
Bookings: MCA Ticketing | 1300 306 776