The Weight of Light | The Street TheatreLeft – Michael Lampard and Alan Hicks. Cover – Michael Lampard. Photos – Shelly Higgs

The Weight of Light is a richly crafted local production with universal themes of grief, despair, hope and fear. A range of original songs with intense vocals explain the journey of a soldier’s return home to confront his past and future.

The song cycle drama has a single protagonist ­­—‘The soldier’ —baritone Michael Lampard, with accompanist on piano Alan Hicks. There are glimpses into the unnamed soldier’s life in scenes, ranging from waiting at a diner, through to arriving at the family farm, flashbacks to Afghanistan’s Kandahar, and a river. 

There is no dialogue as such. The story is in songs with words crafted especially by Nigel Featherstone, who is a Southern Tablelands author of contemporary fiction. The story begins with the soldier’s optimistic return home, eager to see his beloved brother. He reminisces about good times, and simplicity of the bush. His thoughts as song seem calm; a smooth gliding along a highway. However, everyday self-doubt transforms into a deeper turmoil. A circular grating ‘whatiswrongwithme’ descends into negative self-talk. In later scenes, this escalates into post-traumatic stress disorder flashbacks.

So is The Weight of Light a war memoir? There certainly is a connection to conflict trauma, but the emotions are common to civilians alike. Indeed, the inconspicuous wardrobe of the soldier shows the universality of the character.

There are no catchy tunes of a blockbuster musical; the score by James Humberstone is more of a soundtrack backdrop to enhance the narrative. There is intriguing use of the grand piano on stage, such as the very lowest keys, through to direct string manipulation and sheets of paper placed to create a distorted effect.

Lampard projects his strong voice in proud and manly scenes through to frantic fearful doubt in more introspective moments. What is there to live for, with a family tragedy to confront at home and the simmering memory of a life-changing mistake while on duty?

Enhancing the story is set design by Imogen Keen, who places imposing pieces of timber and metal to bear down as a burden in some scenes or as safe shelter in others. The effective lighting design by Linda Buck transforms the stage features from Aussie bush idyll to Afghanistan firefight.

While there is an overall quality to all elements of The Weight of Light, it is hard to bond with the protagonist, as we don’t even know his name. It is clear however by Lampard’s body language and voice control when the mood is hopeful and becalmed versus a torrent of overthink.

Lampard’s lines are articulated clearly, but the over pounding of the piano at times distorts the script, so the plot has missing pieces. Perhaps that is the intent, a kind of patchwork of snapshots outsiders have to other people— recognising their torment, but not aware of the depth and details of their suffering.

Those intrigued by local talent’s depiction of humanity will enjoy The Weight of Light. It is not a war memoir and there is no political agenda. The piece is an insight into one man’s experience of war, life, death, and the comfort of simplicity.

 

The Street Theatre presents
The Weight of Light
words and music Nigel Featherstone | composer James Humberstone

Director Caroline Stacey

Venue: The Street Theatre | 15 Childers St, Canberra City West
Dates: 3 – 4 March 2018
Tickets: $25 – $39
Bookings: (02) 6247 1223 | www.thestreet.org.au

 

 

Related Articles

Spot the Difference | The Stevenson Experience Spot the Difference | The Stevenson Experience
Biology is the comedy chemistry in The Stevenson Experience. Aussie identical twins Benjamin and James Stevenson sass and banter their show into an ideal blend of structured storyline mixed with...
Oedipus Schmoedipus | Intimate Spectacle Oedipus Schmoedipus | Intimate Spectacle
The audience gasps as their eyes react to the onslaught and giggle a little while they wait for something to happen. Photos – Rob Maccoll Blood, as Stoppard's tragedian says, is compulsory....

Most read reviews

Lighten Up | Tom Gleeson

Master of the deadpan, harsh host of Hard Quiz, and heartless interrogator on Hard Chat, making audiences squirm as much as his victims – Tom Gleeson uses blunt-force trauma as his comedy schtick.

Scandal! A Reflection on Essendon’s Doping Saga: The Musical? | Kit Richards

It doesn’t matter how much you know or care about the legality of the Essendon Football Club supplements program in 2013 – it won’t stop you enjoying this original and entertaining saga, because Kit Richards has a talent for making otherwise dull stories fun and interesting. And for writing damn good songs.

Easter at The Piano Mill 2021

Piano Mill’s success has been due to it offering an alternative means of experiencing fresh, original music in the spirit of a sonic adventure staged outdoors.

Because the Night | Malthouse Theatre

If you’re looking for a show that’s completely different and unlike anything you’ve seen in Australia, head to Because the Night.

Chatty Cathy | Nath Valvo

Valvo entertains the crowd with well crafted jokes about life, love and champagne.

Most read news

Vale Taryn Fiebig

Multi award-winning Australian music theatre and opera star Taryn Fiebig, who made Prince Charles cry with her artistry, passed away in Sydney last night from ovarian cancer, aged 49.

MTC to premiere Digital Theatre

Audiences around Australia will have the opportunity to see Melbourne Theatre Company productions direct from stage to screen with the premiere of MTC Digital Theatre – Friday 16 April 2021.

2020 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards

Andrew Myer AM, Chairman, Sidney Myer Fund has announced the winners of the 2020 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards.