Wednesday, 30 April 2003

Frozen by Bryony Lavery, MTC, April 30, 2003y

 Frozen by Bryony Lavery  Melbourne Theatre Company
 Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre, April 30 to June 7, 2003
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Julian Meyrick's  production of Frozen is compelling for myriad reasons. It features three of our best actors: Helen Morse,  Frank Gallacher  and Belinda McClory.  

English playwright, Bryony Lavery's, script is impeccably researched, intricately crafted and profoundly moving. The content about a serial child killer is frightening but important and Lavery explores the humanity in an issue that is so inhuman. It challenges views on forgiveness, revenge and humanity.

Direction by Meyrick is stylish, intelligent and often witty. He focuses on characters' emotional landscape and create an evocative theatrical space. Meyrick uses changing two silent prison guards (Dan Quigley, Kevin Maxwell) in a satisfying and novel mode of scene changing.

The creative team provides a beautiful and unusual environment for the play. Ralph Myers'  set design is stark and almost institutional, accentuating the claustrophobic lives of the three characters. Paul Jackson's lighting design accents the architectural elements of Myers' set. The lighting manages to be both sculptural as well as poetic. Music composed by Tim Dargaville  is a resonant and complex sound landscape of vocal and instrumental music.

The story travels twenty years in time but it is the internal lives of the three protagonists that are focal. All are frozen in their own emotional world. Initially, we witness each speaking in monologue as if confiding only in the audience. As the horrific story unfolds, they draw closer to their inevitable meetings.

 Ralph  (Frank Gallacher) is a seriously disturbed loner, driven by his need for order and his warped desire for little girls. When Nancy's  (Helen Morse) ten-year-old daughter, Rona  disappears, we know Ralph is responsible but twenty years pass before Nancy knows the truth.

Agnetha, (Belinda McClory) an American forensic psychiatrist, presents a credible case for serial killers being the product of brain damage and abuse.

The play is thrilling and inspired, each character driven by obsession. Morse is luminous, passionate and often funny as Nancy, the grieving mother. Gallacher is terrifying as the irrational, the personification of our fears. He captures the dysfunction of Ralph without dehumanising him. 

As Agnetha, McClory balances the fine intellect of the psychiatrist with her unpredictable and profound inner turmoil and despair.

My only quibble is that the show slows down toward the end. Scene changes need to be slicker as the story escalates to its inevitable tragic ending.

By Kate Herbert

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