Saturday, 8 September 2012

Rhonda Is In Therapy, Sept 9, 2012, ***1/2

By Bridgette Burton, Hoy Polloy Theatre & Baggage Productions
fortyfivedownstairs, Sep 7 to 23, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Sept 9, 2012
Stars: ***1/2
Published on line in Herald Sun on Tues Sept 11. Print review later this week in Herald Sun.

Kelly Nash & Louise Crawford in Rhonda Is In Therapy, Photo by Fred Kroh
THE PAIN OF LOSS is sweetened by a little gentle humour in Rhonda Is In Therapy, Bridgette Burton’s play about a successful woman who grieves after the accidental death of her five-year old son.

Rhonda, played with brittleness and untamed passion by Louise Crawford, is a professor of Chemical Engineering who is driven by her work, compulsive about her therapy, unable to bond with her second child and unwilling to share her grief with her husband.

Ben Grant is warm, engaging and totally credible as Lief, Rhonda’s stoical, good-humoured but emotionally abandoned German husband who is also a professor of Chem. Eng. but chooses to stay home to raise their child.

Rhonda’s grief and despair drive her into a clandestine, foolhardy and lusty affair with her student, played by Jamieson Caldwell with youthful exuberance mixed with coyness and blind adoration.

Burton’s script keeps us guessing about Rhonda’s secrets and compulsions, although we do not like or sympathise with her as much as one would assume when we witness her neglect of her living child and loyal husband.

Kelly Nash as the glib therapist provides both insight and humour as she pressures Rhonda to face her truth.

Wayne Pearn sets the production in a fragile, cage-like design by Kat Chan, evocatively lit by Richard Vabre, emphasising Rhonda’s entrapment in her grief, both past and present.

There are explicit, simulated sex scenes in this production that effectively illuminate the odd combination of passion and lovelessness of Rhonda’s affair with the young man.

In some awkward theatrical moments, actors play scenes with an invisible child whose voice Nash provides off-stage, and these moments jar with the naturalistic acting style of the rest of the play.

Although some of the narrative twists are predictable and Louise’s predicament is perhaps too easily resolved in the end, the script has some clever nuances at times and it takes us on a poignant journey with Rhonda and her family. 

By Kate Herbert
Creative Team
Director Wayne Pearn
Dramaturge Julian Meyrick
Set and costume design Kat Chan
Lighting design Richard Vabre
Sound design Tim Bright
Jamieson Caldwell, Louise Crawford,
Ben Grant and Kelly Nash

No comments:

Post a Comment