Wednesday, 27 April 2005

Smashed by Lally Katz , April 27, 2005

Smashed  by Lally Katz 
Store Room, April 27 to May 15, 2005
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on April 27, 2005

Two enchanting features of the production of Smashed are the magnetic performances (Katherine Tonkin, Suzannah McDonald) and the magical set design (Rainbow Sweeney).

Lally Katz's play revolves around two teenage girls and begins with Hazel (McDonald) lying prone in Ruby's arms (Tonkin).

Something horrid, they tell us, has just happened but they postpone their inevitable confrontation of this awful experience.

The pair retreat into their common past: their childhood, adolescence and budding maturity. They even tilt time to drift into 'memories' of their unlived futures.

Katz's script bends time as the girls comment upon or relive their experiences.

The two young women play out this entire series of fantasies and memories amongst a miniature set built of dolls' houses.

They tower over the buildings like giant angels walking through an unwitting city.

They relive their intimate childhood games, dancing to pop songs, discovering Hazel's mother is ill, their first kiss and sitting bored in Hazel's bedroom.

They creep back to the demolition yard where they make up stories about the redneck owners. They walk through the countryside, remembering a hill or a lake then they go for a drive in hazel's mother's car, singing at the top of their lungs.

Many elements of the text are successful. The notions of time and matter, love and friendship, memory and reality, loss and grief, create some interesting material, particularly in the first half.

However, the ideas, form and language run out of steam in the second half. The dialogue becomes overly poetic and the themes are repeated.

What makes the show work well is the lyrical direction of Clare Watson and the particularly compelling performances of Tonkin and McDonald. The pair are as unalike as black and white.

Tonkin is dark, statuesque and smouldering while McDonald is tiny, pert and blond and absolutely luminous.

The two accomplished young actors have enormous range and skill both vocally and physically.

Although it is not spoken in the play, it is obvious to us from the outset that hazel has died and Ruby is grieving. What we do not know until the end is how this horror occurred.

By Kate Herbert

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