Friday, 16 July 2004

Iron by Rona Munro, Red Stitch, July 16, 2004

Iron by Rona Munro 
Red Stitch Actors Theatre
 Rear 2 Chapel St., St. Kilda, July 16 to August 8, 2004
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

The quality of Rona Munro's complex and moving play, Iron, is equalled by the performances by Jenny Lovell (Faye) and Olivia Connolly (Josie).

Bruce Kerr directs the actors with a focus on the intense relationship.

Lovell is passionate as Faye, finding a depth and range of emotion and vocal and physical detail that makes the character credible and three-dimensional.

Faye is serving a life sentence for killing her husband fifteen years earlier. Her daughter, Josie, appears unannounced one visiting day and the pair embarks on a journey to get to know each other after years of separation.

Josie cannot remember anything of her life before her father' murder. She craves a past and only her incarcerated mother can provide it since the death of her paternal grandmother.

Their path is littered with obstacles. Each wears her guilt and loss like a shroud.

Lovell creates a potent sense of Faye's anxious, compulsive nature. The behaviour reflects her institutionalisation in her prison environment.

As Josie, Connolly balances the sense of a motherless child with the questing and competent twenty-five year old woman.

Verity Charlton and Ross Thompson are a fine support. They play two guards who are the closest thing Faye has had to a relationship during her imprisonment.

Charlton is credible as the chippy single mum, Sheila while Thompson, as the philosophical fatherly George, is delightful.

The dialogue is masterly. Munro writes a powerful, resonant scene when the two women meet for the first time over the visitors' room table.

 Faye is awkward, distracted and confused by Josie's reappearance in her life but Josie wants answers. Slowly and imperceptibly, they find their comfort zone.

Munro shows us their unfolding world beginning warmly and then turning to dust.

Josie cannot accept that Faye wants her to recount only wild, fun events in her life so that Faye can live vicariously through her.

After months of visiting, Josie's need to delve into her mother's ugly memories and her attempts to force Faye to appeal her sentence, create irreparable rifts between them.

Peter Mumford's stark design evokes the grim prison environment with simplicity.

The play is a tragedy but it is edged with great humour and humanity and in the hands of these actors, it lives

LOOK FOR: wonderful character development of Faye, played by Jenny Lovell.

By Kate Herbert

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