Left - Erin Dewar, David Whiteley, Sarah Sutherland. Photo - Gemma Higgins-Sears
Red Sky Morning is an emotionally charged production about the despair that simmers beneath the surface of silenced domestic life.
Red Sky Morning begins at nightfall, with the father of a household, played by David Whiteley, captured in a "perfect moment" as he looks out the window of his home, contemplating his life with his wife and daughter. Despite the content that he enunciates, the moment exposes an undercurrent of something sinister and oppressive. As the play progresses, the audience is introduced to the father's wife, played by Sarah Sutherland, and daughter, played by Erin Dewar. Each character begins to express their thoughts, and as they disclose candid details about their lives, the audience is drawn into the world in which despair and helplessness glimmer amid the mediocrity of family life. Indeed, as night transitions into sunrise, and the play is propelled forward, the audience begins to realise that all is not as it seems with this family.
Whiteley, Sutherland and Dewar embody their characters brilliantly, their performances emboldened by quiet sincerity and emotional fervour. At times wrenching, aspiring and devastating, their combined performances enable them to evocatively bring to life a family broken and fractured by the distances it has itself created.
Red Sky Morning is carefully crafted by playwright Tom Holloway and executed with precision by the Red Stitch Company. Although Red Sky Morning is saturated with language, there is no verbal communication between the characters throughout the entire play; rather, the thoughts, motives and desires of each character are presented to the audience as a series of ongoing monologues which interlace and rebound off each other, mimicking, but never actually becoming live communication between the family members. The complex interplay of Tom Holloway's dialogue, with its synchronised overlaps and pauses, is deftly manoeuvred by Whiteley, Dewar and Sutherland, who skillfully portray the turbulence which invades the silence of a family in stand still.
Peter Mumford's set design is clever and sophisticated, voyeuristically drawing the audience into the chaotic lives and thoughts of this family. The parameters of the family home are demarcated by a series of venetian blinds which are opened and closed, not only to strategically reveal the mundane domesticity of the family, but also to shine a spotlight on the psychological spaces of the characters, their motives and thoughts.
The return season of Red Stitch's Red Sky Morning, produced in conjunction with Full Tilt, is an accomplished theatrical endeavour boasting excellent set aesthetics, an absorbing script and captivating performances. Director Sam Strong transforms the labyrinthine machinations of Holloway's storytelling into a palpable, moving performance, portrayed with boldness by Whiteley, Sutherland and Dewar. In a play in which language is so pivotal to the trajectory of the story, the physicality of the actors and their transposed movements around set, significantly dissect the fused story lines of the play expounding the father's depression, the mother's alcoholism and the daughter's alienation with raw honesty. The convergence of these forces creates a tense and compelling atmosphere in the auditorium which reverberates throughout this unique portrayal of a family in anguish.
A Red Stitch production presented by FULL TILT at the Arts Centre
Red Sky Morning
by Tom Holloway
Venue: Fairfax Studio
Dates: 3 - 13 Jun 2009
Tickets: $28 - $14
Booking: Ticketmaster or 1300 136 166