Great White is a new work by Will O’Mahony, produced by his newly born theatre company The Skeletal System in conjunction with The Blue Room. O’Mahony has not only written and directed this play, but he also performs in it along with Adriane Daff and Mikala Westall. It’s a piece that certainly feels autobiographical in the philosophical questions it raises, reflecting many of the issues that a man goes through as he prepares to say goodbye to his youth and embark upon the inevitabilities that come with proper adulthood.
There’s always a risk that a work written, directed and starring one person can start to feel like a vanity piece, but O’Mahony avoids this pitfall mainly by giving the driving force of this story to his incredibly gifted co-stars. Adriane Daff stars as “Lauren” who is also a shark. She appears to O’Mahony (Ben) in human female form, and informs him that she is going to eat him. We learn through their conversation that she used to be a young girl named Lauren Hamilton, who was eaten by a shark, and is now trapped indefinitely in the form of a shark until she can eat someone else who will take over the shark’s existence. We learn that Ben is swimming at this secluded spot with his girlfriend, also named Lauren (Mikala Westall).
The three each go through their own personal existential struggles that have to do with growing up. Ben struggles with committing to his girlfriend and leaving a life of independence. Shark Lauren struggles to reconcile her lost youth with her “stuck” existence where time drones on and she cannot move on. Girlfriend Lauren struggles to make peace with a troubled childhood that keeps her from feeling safe and sound with another person. Somehow they all manage to go on this emotional journey and work it out by the end of 70 minutes.
This play is largely nostalgic, as O’Mahony refers to childhood games, school days, and notable moments of pop culture from the last couple of decades. The dialogue could have done with a bit of editing on this front in order to keep it more universal, and often times the frequent reminiscing felt distracting to the story. However, when O’Mahony does get to the heart of the matter, he writes beautiful moments about the truths he is expressing. He does a good job of balancing the serious moments with humour, and all of the actors are able to move easily in between light and dark.
The set consists of nothing more than a variety of different-sized blue and white balloons that represent the ocean; it’s a simple and effective convention by Alicia Clements. Lighting is designed by Joe Lui, who uses very delicate shifts to assist a change of mood or tone. The mostly subtle soundscape (apart from a slightly intrusive storm sound cue) is designed by Will Slade. Here the creative team have kept it simple in order to put the focus on the story.
The Blue Room continues to foster great Perth independent theatre; Great White is no exception.
The Skeletal System and The Blue Room present
by Will O’Mahony
Director Will O’Mahony
Venue: The Blue Room Theatre | 53 James Street, Northbridge WA
Dates: 12 – 29 June, 2013
Tickets: $15 – $25