Photos - Heidrun Lohr
Scorched is what you get when theatre makers are prepared to experiment with all areas of their craft. French Canadian playwright Wajdi Mouawad created the script based on the ideas and individual talents of his actors. Director Neil Armfield had to experiment with ways of staging the play with his own Australian cast.
Two twins, Simon (Ashley Lyons) and Janine (Yael Stone) are requested to take letters to a long lost father and brother by their mother, Nawal, in her will. This quest reveals the truth about Nawal (played at various stages of her life by Paula Arundell, Gillian Jones and Zindi Okenyo). The play is set in an unnamed middle-eastern country, torn apart by warring factions
Janine tries to understand events by drawing on analogies with pure mathematics which she is currently doing a PHD on. There is a danger that the play could get bogged down and pretentious in trying to deal with such dense concepts but the plot is kept moving. In contrast, Simon deals with things through profanities and a boxer’s rage. Comic relief is used expertly in the form of the eternally nervous notary, Alphonse Lebel, brilliantly played by Brian Lipson. His streams of hopelessly confused clichés are a great tension breaker and never outstay their welcome.
At 2 hrs 50 minutes, there are several places where the script should have been trimmed. The final twenty minutes just retreads old ground and detracts from the rest. The ending fails to pack the punch that the play needs.
Director Neil Armfield has created a constantly intriguing visual spectacle. The stage is covered in sand. The sand is swept away or pushed together in clumps around Nawal as she gives birth.
Music is part of the play, rather than just being a mood enhancer. Carl Dewhurst, plucks and strums his guitar, creating strange deep drones. Music intrudes into the play itself, when Janine talks to a man who is busy doing a sound check for an upcoming rock concert. Nawal herself is known in legend as “The women who sings”.
Scorched is highly recommended for a unique night at the theatre. Prepare to be indulged with poetry, sight and sound.
Company B presents
by Wajdi Mouawad
Venue: Belvoir St Theatre, 25 Belvoir St, Surry Hills
Dates: 23 July – 7 September
Times: Tuesday 6.30pm, Wednesday to Friday 8pm, Saturday 2pm & 8pm, Sunday 5pm.
Tickets: Full $54. Seniors (excluding Fri/Sat evenings) and Groups 10+ $45. Concession $33.
Student Rush $25 for Tuesday 6.30pm and Saturday 2pm, available from 10am on the day (subject to availability)
Bookings: 9699 3444 or www.belvoir.com.au