Friday, 2 December 2011

Strands, Peta Brady, Dec 1, 2011 ****

By Peta Brady, produced by La Mama 
La Mama Theatre, Dec 1 to 18, 2011
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on December 1, 2011
Wilhelmina Stracke and Peta Brady in Strands

IN STRANDS,  Peta Brady’s beautifully crafted little gem of a play, Brady and Wilhelmina Stracke create the poignant, wryly funny and private world of two adult sisters, one of whom is intellectually disabled and the other damaged by their tough childhood.

Hope (Stracke) and Destiny’s (Brady) life together is lived in a capsule and Brady and Stracke fully inhabit these two fragile but adorable personalities with all their flaws, shared memories and confusion about the world into which they were born.

Stracke is mesmerising as sweet, loving and generous Hope, the baby sister who was born with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and, as she describes it, holes in her brain.

It is rare to see an actor capture with such truth and sensitivity the details of intellectual disability, perseveration, mood swings and childlikeness without parody or patronising.

Brady’s older sister, Destiny, is brittle, nervy, rake thin, resentful of their alcoholic mother’s abandonment of them and perpetually struggling with her role as Hope’s surrogate parent and her own need for independence.

Until this watershed day Hope lived with their loving Nan, but Nan’s recent death means that Hope must leave Nan’s supportive home to live ‘with other Nans’ in a nursing home.

As they pack Nan’s house into two boxes, Hope, like a sweet and demanding child, begs for just one more story from Destiny – the repository of her family memories – and pleads to live with Destiny and her cat.

Nan is only present in a jar of her ashes but Destiny soothes Hope by play-acting as Nan in her wig and spectacles.

Their mother’s expressionistic painting captures the only lasting image they have of their family and a glossy violin is Hope’s great joy.

There is only one brief section in the middle when the rhythm of the script falters a little, but this is quickly forgotten as the story shifts its focus and surges to its endearing ending.

Sue Jones directs her actors with subtlety and delicacy, and we grow to love this wounded pair and to cheer for the survival of Hope and Destiny’s tender and moving relationship.

By Kate Herbert 

Writer: Peta Brady
Cast: Peta Brady & Wilhelmina Stacke
Director: Sue Jones
Dramaturg: Catherine Hill
Designer: Belinda Wiltshire
Stage Manager: Bec Etchell

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