Wednesday, 21 January 2009

How To Direct From The Inside , Jan 21, 2009 **

How To Direct From The Inside
By Ephiny Gale
La Mama, Jan 21 to Feb 1, 2009
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

There is something prettily decadent about the staging of How To Direct From The Inside by Ephiny Gale.  With its collection of dolls, rocking chair and dolls’ tea-sets spread across the floor, the tiny interior of La Mama becomes the jumbled, old-fashioned bedroom of a little girl.

Six young women, most dressed decoratively in tattered, spattered petticoats, perch amongst the detritus. Susie (Steph Lillis), hugging a doll, peers through a high window; Kat (Kate Dix) and Anne (Amy Jenkins) sway rhythmically on the rocking chair; Jacq (Syrie Payne) reclines behind a fabric screen.

Illia (Charlotte Strantzen) strides across the stage intermittently, giving instructions as the “director,” and Blue (Kiloran Hiscock), the lead, communicates with us and with them.

The problem is that form completely overwhelms content. The themes are so opaque and the structure so convoluted that the play fails to tell its story – unless we read the program notes.

There are too many characters on and off stage. The six on-stage women are evidently metaphors for the body and mind of Blue – imagination, circulation, memory, brain. Seven other characters (apparently the dolls) are mentioned but they are so confusing it is impossible to understand their roles as part of Blue. Then there is a further metaphor overlaid; they are the cast and crew of a theatrical production. Confused yet?

Director, Clara Pagone, attempts to elucidate themes, characters and relationships by visual means but, in the end, there are just too many characters and far too much exposition. Ironically, Blue begins the play by saying that she hates monologues and exposition.

There is certainly commitment from the entire cast to explore these themes of identity through metaphor and language but, in the end, the play is almost impenetrable without program notes.

By Kate Herbert

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