Enunciations is the first show by Raspberry Ripple Productions, the new theatre company for, by and about people with disabilities.
Devised by artistic director Kate Hood, this gentle and funny work for theatre offers audiences quiet gems of storytelling, with actors with disabilities and those without performing different short pieces – monologues, comedic style sketches, small moments of physical theatre, and a panel type piece where the cast shared some personal stories. These latter moments particularly captured the audience’s attention, something worth noting for future productions.
A sarcastic take on a man’s hapless attempt to purchase bi-focal spectacles amused with a message that played out nicely, bringing home the dilemma of the unaffordability of certain items of equipment – things that make all the difference to some people’s lives when it comes to functioning in the world. There’s a scene where red tape discourages an organisation from investigating its own inclusive practices, another where a patronizing and unsympathetic job interviewer (Gilbert Stansfield) is dismissive of contributions from somebody in a chair, some effective juxtapositions of several of the most famous speeches from Shakespeare – you hear them in a new way when they’re spoken in an unexpected context, in particular where Jess Kapuscinski-Evans delivers Richard III’s famous soliloquy and makes something new and moving out of it. Emma J Hawkins gets her cheeky on with a couple of breathtaking moments of physical performance. There is a moving story of a daughter (Alisha Eddy) given up for adoption meeting her birth mother (Kate Hood) for the first time – this subtly drawn yet emotionally laden story was a highlight in terms of narrative and subtext, allowing the audience to simply ‘get’ a story where drama and sensation overrides appreciation of another’s experience; a stunning piece of writing. More subtle storytelling comes with two monologues about sisterhood, performed by Eva Sifis and Eddy.
Everything here is delivered with soft humour and lack of self-pity or cant, yet the stories are clearly informed by lived experience. The pacing is too slow at times but Enunciations is a strong debut from a company with a future – as the program says, quoting UK theatre maker Jo Verrent (CEO of UK Disability Arts Company) – they are ‘boldly going where everyone has been before.’
Raspberry Ripple Productions presents
Venue: Footscray Community Arts Centre Performance Space
Dates: 19 – 21 August 2016
Tickets: $25 – $20