Written and Directed by Sally Richardson, Trigger Warning is nothing if not confrontational.
The play tells the story, if such an expression can be adequately applied, of a woman who experienced extreme trauma during the Balkan war.
The programme states that you do not need to be a victim of war in order to engage with this production, and this sentiment is repeated in the opening minutes of the play. However, I find it difficult to believe that anyone could fully engage with this production.
The production is not bad technically, or stylistically, in fact it is really quite good in both of these aspects. It simply appeared as though there was an attempt to push too many boundaries at the same time. The message of the play seemed as though it was either supposed to open the audience’s eyes, or to provide the audience with a sense of catharsis… If the prior is the case, then by performing to a paying audience at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, they are preaching to the choir on the matter of ending violence. If the latter is the intention, then some of the Avant Garde theatrical techniques must be dialled back, in order to allow for a greater degree of audience sympathy and empathy.
The technical team, comprised of Joe Lui, as lighting designer, and Cat Hope, with musical composition and sound, really do bring this production to a tier above. The reliance that this script has on its technical components leaves itself open both to a high degree of interpretation, and also a great degree of risk. The technical team that has been assembled for this production truly create an enthralling experience of their own, outside of the play’s greater narrative.
There are moments in the play that are utterly surreal, and beyond belief. It confounds one’s mind to think that such a thing might ever be staged. However, there are some purely magical and emotionally enthralling moments within this production that make any short-comings worth the while of seeing.
The stories and messages within this play are confronting, and this is absolutely intentional. While the production style may have missed the mark at certain points, the bold simplicity of particular moments in the play are juxtaposed as a result, making them shine through all the brighter. The final moments of the play had me sitting on the edge of my seat, ensuring that I did not miss a word that Hayley McElhinney spoke as the lights slowly dimmed behind her.
Steamworks Arts presents
by Sally Richardson
Directed by Sally Richardson
Venue: PICA Performance Space
Dates: 19 – 20 August 2016
Bookings: pica.org.au I 08 9228 6300