Left – Syd Brisbane, Aljin Abella, Leone White, Emma Hall, Anouk Gleeson-Mead. Cover – Leone White, Anouk Gleeson-Mead, Emma Hall. Photos – Sarah Walker
Original and unsettling, this play knocks your socks and shoes off with its stark expression of human vulnerability and its shadow side, manipulation. Victims have their own power, a perverted, cannibalistic power, certainly, but victimhood comes with a pay-off.
In the most sparing way young Melbourne writer Louris van de Geer gives us three scenarios where characters are left with only their pain to express themselves with and define themselves by. A support circle offers attentive caring to a young woman survivor of 9/11. Or is she? Watch out for her antics at the tea urn – divinely eloquent.
There isn’t a comfortable story arc here, there isn’t a comfortable narrative and no comforts at all to take away. It’s downright prickly. And ironic and funny. What a tricksy voice this playwright has; she’s getting attention and rightly so.
Direction by Mark Pritchard excels when it comes to timing. All the cast members do this work justice, performing alongside Anouk Gleeson-Mead, Emma Hall and Leone White, Syd Brisbane brings notable moments of exuberance as a ‘chosen’ fellow, still wanting to know that his life has meant something, wanting recognition while on a grim journey of closure with Aljin Abella’s intense yet emotionally dead character. The shifts of status between the mother and daughter in the Munchausen by Proxy story thread move you quickly from a distanced distaste to a kind of compassion and understanding. Co-dependence, tacit transaction, ritualized vulnerability and pseudo-caring becoming real caring …
Performing ourselves becomes a habit, we may or may not be conscious of how and when we do this in a society where we all need to be someone, where we create brands of ourselves, tell our stories for emotional impact, where we crave public responses. We learn to not trust our real feelings – or are our sentiments and sympathies transformed into something real in the collective expression of them? In a bizarre way, the play is saying that there’s more honesty in the lies. Strong drama, a short intense wonderfully realized work, admirable in the way it refuses to judge or sensationalise some of our most mysterious behaviours. Fabulously and refreshingly understated.
New Working Group presents
by Louris van de Geer
Directed by Mark Pritchard
Venue: fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC
Dates: 19 – 28 February 2016
Tickets: $35 – $28
Bookings: 03 9662 9966 | www.fortyfivedownstairs.com