Every year Metro Arts hosts a tantalising line up of independent theatre. Although 2012 isn't quite half way through, I feel I can say, without any hesitation, that The Nest Ensemble's production of Eve will be one of the finest examples of independent theatre you'd be likely to see anywhere in Australia this year.
This stunning piece of theatre is the collaborative work of Writer & Co-deviser Margi Brown Ash, Director & Co-deviser Leah Mercer and Co-deviser Daniel Evans. However, the project's origins date back to 1994 and included Douglas Leonard and Anna Fairley. Despite the inherent hurdles this production faced after Doug Leonard sadly passed away in 2011, and the seemingly canyon-like gap between inception and realisation, Eve is an exquisite and intricate work. (The cliché I want to use is pure poetry in motion.) It will hold you captive and captivate you from the moment you walk into the theatre and right through to the curtain call.
What is Eve about? In short, it's a cocktail of memoir and fiction that pays homage to Eve Langly (1904-1974), an Australian writer whose literary work was acclaimed. The tragedy was she lived a tormented life, caught between the confines of family and motherhood and her need to be a free, creative individual unbound by social constructs, such as gender roles.
This is not a depressing search into the soul of this misunderstood artist (while this territory is covered) but more a dark, brilliant and creative post mortem deep into the heart, mind and varying personas of Eve. Margi Brown Ash plays Eve and is riveting to watch. The play's prose drips from her tongue, every movement and breath is enthralling. Margi holds the audience's gaze commandingly and with a delicacy superb to watch. She embodies Eve and manages to magically summon the souls of literary giants and the heavens themselves into the theatre. Sharing the stage with Margi are performers Stace Callaghan, whose sophisticated vocals soothingly relate Oscar Wilde's 'The Selfish Giant' at intervals throughout the piece, and Moshlo, whose violin and physical performance works in beautiful harmony and discord opposite Eve for the entire show.
Every aspect of Eve is a refined sensory experience. The set design by Blackwoods Original, which heavily incorporates organic material (wood mostly), is enchanted Australian bush, meets dilapidated hut, meets bespoke rural design. I longed to explore the set after the performance and see it and touch it up close, like some fascinating artefact. Lighting design by Genevieve Trace was visually exacting and the use of shadow and shadow play was exceptional. Sound design by Travis Ash was wonderfully intense and acted to enhance the emotive edge of the performance, pushing the audience's auditory experience to the brink of uncomfortable and back again.
The Nest Ensemble's Eve is a strong and compelling piece of independent theatre. It is a sublime, evocative, rich, disturbing and tightly woven piece that will leave you intellectually reeling and profoundly inspired by its complexity and the beautiful, mad brilliance that manifested in the life and work of Eve Langley.
Metro Arts and The Nest Ensemble present
written by Margi Brown Ash | devised by Margi Brown Ash, Leah Mercer and Daniel Evans
Director Leah Mercer
Venue: Sue Benner Theatre, Metro Arts | 109 Edward Street, Brisbane
Dates: 9 – 26 May, 2012
Times: Tuesdays – Saturdays @ 7:30pm
Tickets: $20 – $12
Bookings: (07) 3002 7100 | metroarts.com.au