Adelaide ensemble five.point.one satisfactorily presents Edward Bond’s The Under Room to an appreciative audience at The Bakehouse Theatre.
Duplicity, shame, estrangement and empathy are at the heart of the play and this production is sometimes humane but always acutely disquieting. It’s exigent, mesmeric and truly disconcerting. Bond’s dialogue and stimulating parody is peculiar, yet teeming with concealed vehemence and repulsion. What’s more, the tale is passionate, intelligent, well directed – by Corey McMahon - and frighteningly relevant. Both the simple concrete cellar set by Cassandra Backler and the lighting by Susan Grey-Gardner work well together to evoke an almost kitchen-sink drama feel with Hitchcokian undertones. Certainly, there are elements of classic thriller mystery but this play is much more than that. Bond has created an intelligent, bittersweet and powerfully surprising piece of theatre that explodes to reveal the base human condition. The characters don’t even comprehend the ties between themselves and are left troubled by the glimpses they get into other people’s worlds. The audience too, is shocked by the exposed revelations from the darkest recesses of the characters’ minds.
When an illegal immigrant smashes a window and breaks into Joan’s flat, her world is shattered. Outside there are soldiers patrolling the streets and the alien is on the run. She locks him inside her cellar and insists on an explanation. The foreigner's tale transforms her life unequivocally as she recognises that she too is an outsider in her own land. Together they look for an answer to their predicament. For enough money, Jack offers to help. He has contacts in the resistance who can provide false papers and safe passage across the border. But is Jack all he seems? Can any of the trio trust one another? What follows is rewarding and purposeful journey for the trio.
Brad Williams is marvellous as the character of the illegal immigrant - who narrates on behalf of the faceless scarecrow-like effigy that cannot communicate for itself. Kate Roxby is restrained but does exude compassion as Joan and Nathaniel Davidson is sturdy as the self-confessed parasite Jack. All three work well together within the Spartan walls of the cellar which highlights the claustrophobic world of alienation.
The Under Room is at once a profoundly cheerless play, and an intensely candid and pessimistic one that should appeal to discerning theatre goers.
The Under Room
by Edward Bond
Venue: The Bakehouse Theatre | 255 Angas Street, Adelaide
Preview: Thursday 29 October, 8:00pm
Season: Friday 30 October, Saturday 31 October, Wednesday 4 November – Saturday 7 November and Wednesday 11 November – Saturday 14 November
Tickets: Adult $22, Concession $20, Fringe Benefits $18
Bookings: 8227 0505 | www.bakehousetheatre.com