That Face | Red Stitch Actors TheatrePhotos - Jodie Hutchinson

Polly Stenham’s
play That Face has, with much justice, rapidly gained a strong reputation. A robust and often confronting look at an extremely dysfunctional family, it shares with much classic drama themes of abandonment, betrayal, cruelty and loss of affection, and gives its actors great opportunities. This production, polished in style and raw in emotion, presents a modern tragedy.

The production by Red Stitch, skilfully directed by Sarah Giles and with a striking design by Claude Marcos, presents a claustrophobic flat, dominated by the mother, Martha (a monster/victim), well played by Sarah Sutherland. Her hapless son Henry (an excellent performance by Tim Potter) believes he is caring for her but, in a dynamic out of Strindberg, actually being seduced, captured and possessed by her. His sister Mia (Lauren Henderson, more fine acting), disgusted by her mother and seemingly allied with Hugh, the absent father, stays well clear of this squalid set-up at a private school where she has become drawn into a sadistic duo with another malevolent pupil.

Events reach a climax when Mia has to be rescued from some of her machinations, the mother is overdue for hospital admission, and Hugh jets in from Hong Kong to sort things out, but actually to precipitate another kind of breakdown. Dion Mills tackles this thankless role creditably.

This production can be unreservedly recommended for its strong story line, objective fairness to all characters, excellent acting, clever design and forceful impact. It’s on for three more weeks.

Red Stitch Actors Theatre presents
That Face
by Polly Stenham

Directed by Sarah Giles

Venue: Red Stitch Actors Theatre, Rear, 2 Chapel St, St Kilda
Dates: Friday 30 April - Saturday 29 May, 2010
Times: Wednesday - Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 6.30pm
Bookings: (03) 9533 8083 |

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