Manonita tells the story of the title character (played by Sarah Burnham) whose world is slowly unravelling. It seems that she can no longer distinguish between the voices in her head, and the world around her. This is an idea that has been used numerous times on stage and in other mediums, but what saves Manonita from becoming another dull excursion into the mind of madness, is the vitality that these performers bring to their performance. All of the performers inhabit their characters and bring a real energy to their performance which isn’t forced or contrived. In addition they never once cast judgement on Manonita, or force the audience to a conclusion. This is a mature way of handling such subject matter and it comes as a surprise from such young performers.
Moving Theatre, the company behind the production, are an ensemble of young performers (all under 25) who write and perform their own work. Manonita is directed expertly by Pauline Agius from a script by Aguis, Sean Moran and Sarah Burnham and they (and the ensemble) have tried very hard to build a world for the audience to inhabit. For the most part they have succeeded in creating a layered world which appears fully formed, but occasionally the artifice slips and we are aware that this is “theatre” that we’re watching. But this is minor complaint - if there is one genuine complaint it is that the show relies too heavily on blackouts and set movement that appears unnecessary and doesn’t add to the performance. Even so Moving Theatre are clearly a young company that should be encouraged and followed.
One final note, it’s not often that as a reviewer you feel compelled to mention the venue, but the Euro Masonic Hall in Sunshine is worth mentioning for it significance. This is a new venue in a suburb which as far as I am aware has never had a theatre performance venue. This is an exciting development in the Melbourne Theatre scene. Hopefully this is the beginning of a trend that will see more venues appearing in different locations across the entire city. This can only be good for the diversity and variety of the Performing Arts scene in Melbourne.
Moving Theatre presents
by Pauline Agius, Sean Moran and Sara Burnham
Director Pauline Agius
Venue: Euro Masonic Hall (Corner Corio St and Hampshire Rd, Sunshine)
Dates: 2 - 5 December, 2010
Tickets: $20 / $18 Concession