Monday, 19 March 2012

Beyond The Neck, March 18, 2012 ****1/2

Beyond The Neck: a quartet on loss and violence
By Tom Holloway
Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre
Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre, St. Kilda, March 16 to April 14, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on March 18, 2012
Stars: **** 1/2
Roger Oakley, Philippa Spicer, Emmaline Carroll, Marcus McKenzie in Beyond the Neck

Port Arthur witnessed much human misery, first as a hellish convict settlement and, more recently, during the 1996 massacre of 35 innocents by Martin Bryant.

Tom Holloway’s play, Beyond the Neck, sensitively directed by Suzanne Chaundy with Dayna Morrissey’s simple, evocative design, is subtitled ‘a quartet on loss and violence’ for good reason.

Through the heart-wrenching stories of four characters whose paths intersect at Port Arthur a decade after the massacre, it compels us to contemplate the life-altering impact of losing loved ones to senseless acts of violence.

All four performers are compelling, with Philippa Spicer as a teenage girl who mourns her beloved father but subscribes to a conspiracy theory that the government orchestrated the massacre at Port Arthur.

Emmaline Carroll plays a young mum who carries her grief for her husband and toddler, while Roger Oakley plays an old man who witnessed the massacre but still works as a tour guide at Port Arthur, never having dealt with the trauma.

Marcus McKenzie, as the emotionally frail child, is the most disturbing because the boy appears to be a victim, but his fantasies and violent, insensitive deeds and words suggest that he is a Martin Bryant in the making.

Holloway’s dialogue has characters narrating their own and other characters’ stories, interrupting and correcting each other or adding details, until they finally meet at Port Arthur. Audiences will be deeply moved by this fine production.

By Kate Herbert

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