Fleur Murphy's story-telling sparkles in this gritty piece about four 'femme fatales' embroiled in the same 1920s, Australian underworld crime. The brothel world of desperate women and disgusting men is painted with bold strokes, energy, and movement, across four monologues. Grimy smudges and humidity hang as the piece grows creepingly confrontational and raw.
Murphy writes whirling, unfiltered emotion most powerfully. Not only does it suck the audience into the imagined place, but it guides the actor with the precision of tram-tracks. Rosemary Johns' performance as 'Old Femme' is a particularly compelling demonstration. Murphy's, and indeed director, Chris Saxon's, atmospheric control is proven with the contrasting coolness and imagery of 'Man Femme's' monologue. Rooted in the non-fictional lives of Australian female criminals, it is impressive that this subject, laden with dramaturgical interest and real-life scandal, is treated with such subtlety. The inherent tension of lived experience is allowed to do its own work.
The play really elevates a notch with Erin Dewar's monologue as 'Pretty Femme'. She lends her character a beautifully sad mix of humour and violence, and draws the audience right to the end of her bed. In doing-so, she encapsulates what Shadows of Angels is trying to do.
The Studio at The Bakehouse Theatre is an enigmatic venue for this 'bare lightbulb', 'film-noir' play. If the actors can resist the very occasional urge to push at the words, and let themselves fall-in with their rhythm, Shadows of Angels will be riveting; complex in its simplicity.
Jerky Cat presents
Shadows of Angels
by Fleur Murphy
Directed by Chris Saxton
Venue: The Bakehouse Theatre | 255 Angas Street, Adelaide
Dates: 27 Feb – 3 Mar 2012
Tickets: A $20/ C $15/ BSA $15/ FB $15/ G $15