Sunday, 18 August 2013

night maybe, Aug 17, 2013 **1/2

By Kit Brookman, Stuck Pigs Squealing 
Theatre Works, 17 Aug until 1 Sept 2013
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on 17 Aug
Stars: **1/2
Review also published in Herald Sun online on Monday 19 Aug, 2013, and later in print. KH

Sarah Ogden, pic Sarah Walker

Kit Brookman’s stylised, non-narrative play, night maybe (sic), is written in such a circuitous and abstract form that it becomes a cryptogram that is virtually unbreakable.

This enigmatic play, directed imaginatively by Luke Mullins, opens with a beautifully lit scene (Richard Vabre) in which the timid, socially inept Sasha (Sarah Ogden) follows her gay, younger brother, Tom (Tom Conroy), as he escapes the family home.

The courageous, volatile Tom flees, leaving frightened Sarah alone to await his return.

As if in a smoky dream world or the afterlife, Sasha drifts through misty parklands, grim laneways, a riverbank – she even ends up in Siberia – meeting ghostly characters that sometimes resemble her brother and his friends or are just eccentric strangers.

Are you confused yet? The piece becomes more and more disconnected, obscure and dislocated until the final scenes that reveal no more than we knew at the beginning – despite the cryptic explanation in the program notes.

Having no linear narrative is fine as long as the abstraction serves a theatrical purpose.

However, the embedded themes and non-specific characters never pay off here, and we do not discover the point of this mysterious journey and its poetic ramblings.

The great strengths in Mullins’ production are Mel Page’s environmental set design that uses real turf and bare-branched trees, and Vabre’s evocative lighting that creates a mystical, compartmentalised world for these creatures to roam.

The actors work very hard to provide meaning to this piece but the play wanders aimlessly just like Sasha’s ambiguous journey through darkness.

Despite the lack of clarity in the script, Ogden makes Sasha sympathetic while Conroy is playful and entertaining as Tom and as the sassy teenager, Sally.

Brian Lipson’s skill is under-used as the spooky stranger and Marcus McKenzie makes some skimpy characters a bit interesting.

This ultimately frustrating play has all the hallmarks of an ambitious, young writer who lacks technique but chooses to deconstruct before he knows how to construct a script for the theatre.

By Kate Herbert
Tom Conroy – photo  Sarah Walker

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