Red Sky Morning, by Tom Holloway, is a brief, intense, accomplished and generally convincing piece. Directed and acted with great skill, it slowly builds a gripping, even compelling mood, though never, as is claimed, ‘confronting head-on the impact of depression and isolation in regional Australia’.
While there is no denying its theatrical force, the play is hamstrung by some impersonality and tonal uncertainty. Its three characters, for instance, are listed as ‘man’, ‘woman’ and ‘girl’, (the couple’s daughter), and their deliberately abstract names immediately remove the situation from the realism it seems to claim. Further, the woman begins with a lengthy description of farting in bed, the relish of this section working very much against the later attempt to paint her as a lonely, neglected alcoholic. These shifts in tone delay and damage some of the play’s deeper aims and themes.
Its three characters, shown through a method of parallel monologues, are separate and depressed, and reach towards each other only with awkward, ineffectual tenderness. The words overlap, repeat, loop back on themselves, and the actors’ skill in orchestrating all this is extraordinary. Significantly, however, perhaps the most effective moment of the piece is the daughter’s discovery of her father’s contemplated suicide, a moment of cold and frightened silence. For once the words stop in the face of something greater.
Red Stitch is much to be praised for the development and production of this well-written, acted and directed play - their presentation of more from this writer (and other Australian writers) is keenly anticipated.
Red Stitch Actors Theatre
Red Sky Morning
by Tom Holloway
Where: Red Stitch Actors Theatre | rear 2 Chapel St, St Kilda East (opp Astor)
When: Fri August 29 – Sat September 27. Wed – Sat 8pm, Sun 6.30pm
$18 previews Wed 27 and Thurs 28 August
Running Time: 70 mins
Bookings: www.redstitch.net (discounted tix) or on 03 9533 8083 @ $30/20