Friday, 25 July 2003

Dirty Butterfly, Red Stitch, July 25, 2012

By Debbie Tucker Green
Red Stitch Actors Theatre Rear 2A Chapel St. St. Kilda
July 25 to August 17, 2003
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on July 25, 2003

 There is an ominous feeling from the very start of Dirty Butterfly. We sense that someone is to be damaged irreparably.

English playwright, Debbie Tucker Green, tells her story about violence and voyeurism in two parts. The first peers into the world of the three young neighbours from an apartment block with very thin walls.

Jo (Kat Stewart) Amelia  (Ella Caldwell ) and Jason (Vince Miller) live adjacent to each other. Jason suffers with a stammer and is socially isolated. He spends hapless hours with an ear pressed to his dividing wall listening to Jo's sexual activity with her abusive boyfriend.

The opening act is abstracted. We see all three in the space as if in their own apartments but communicating directly as if in the same room. Jo tells that, in the early morning, she crept from her bed to crawl to the toilet, afraid to wake her volatile lover. She taunts Jason with her sexual exploits, knowing he is obsessed with her.

Amelia has already moved downstairs from her bedroom to sleep on her sofa to avoid the sounds of lust through her wall. She wants Jason to do the same. We wonder, are Amelia and Jason friends or ex-lovers? Do they know Jo or not?

Jo wakes up every morning feeling as if it is going to be her last. Each day she could be right but we do not know if we are about to witness her final hours.

The second act is shorter and more realistic as Jo arrives, early in the morning, bloody and beaten in the café Amelia cleans.

Kat Stewart is compelling as the beleaguered Jo. She explores a range that runs from the seductive to the shattered and victimised. Caldwell is sympathetic as Amelia, the young Cockney who wants to avoid all the horror of Jo's life but cannot seem to separate from her.

Miller plays the repressed and trembling Jason as an obsessional but sad young man. Martin White's direction accentuates the strangeness of the play and the fragmented nature of Tucker Green's dialogue.

The play intrudes on these miserable and fallible individuals' lives, peeling back the layers of their raw humanity. The lives of these three are as flimsy and vulnerable as the walls that separate their flats.

By Kate Herbert

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