Thursday, 31 August 2017

The Way Out, Aug 30, 2017 ***

Written by Josephine Collins, by Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre
At Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre, until Sept 24, 2017
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Aug 30, 2017 
This review also published in Herald Sun Arts online on Thurs Aug 31 2017, and later in print (probably Fri Sept 1 2017). KH
Brigid Gallacher, Dion Mills_photo by Teresa Nobile Photography

From the perspective of a contemporary world threatened by conflict, tainted by pollution and mismanaged by corrupt governments or powerful corporations, it is not impossible to imagine the grim, dystopian future depicted in Josephine Collins’ play, The Way Out.

Helen (Brigid Gallacher) runs a bar with her father, Stewart (Dion Mills), in a north-western Victorian country town some time in the near future after a civil war has decimated the region’s food production and air quality and damaged the residents’ health.

Since ‘pacification’ 14 years earlier, a government body called ARC has controlled citizens’ lives with a style reminiscent of Orwell’s Big Brother, and Stewart, Helen and their friends Claire (Olga Makeeva) and Ryan (Kevin Hofbauer) quietly resist such oppression.

When a smiling, youthful but insidious government inspector (Rory Kelly) arrives to monitor Stewart and Helen’s business, his visit overlaps with that of a black marketeer (Sahil Saluja) and the locals’ illegal activities and resistance to the government risk being unmasked.

Although the narrative is sometimes confusing, Penny Harpham’s production is effectively unsettling with its menacing world of spies, rationing, hazard masks, totalitarian government, privileged groups and quarantine zones.

Charlotte Lane’s realistic set design conjures a dank, dingy bar with grimy, glass doors that look out on a perilously smoky and impenetrable world, while blaring sirens, flashing hazard lights and intrusive public announcements intensify the alarming atmosphere.

Gallacher is warm and sympathetic as young Helen who hopes for a better world and secretly grows one tiny seedling that could change their lives.

Mills is suitably tough but damaged as Stewart, the angry, old warrior who makes and sells illegal booze and craves the freedom of the pre-war years.

The characters’ desire for a safer and more equitable world is tinged with a sense of danger and hopelessness that is magnified by an undercurrent of seething resentment and rage.

The Way Out provides a disturbing glimpse into a plausible, not-too-distant future that we desperately need to avoid.

By Kate Herbert
Brigid Gallacher, Kevin Hofbauer__photo by Teresa Nobile Photography
Kevin Hofbauer - Ryan
Rory Kelly - Fyfe
Brigid Gallacher - Helen
Dion Mills - Stewart
Olga Makeeva - Claire
Sahil Saluja - Harry
Khrisraw Jones-Shukoor – Ryan (alternate)

Director - Penny Harpham
Dramaturg -Jane Bodie
Set and Costume Design -Charlotte Lane
Lighting Design -Clare Springett & Michael Robinson
Sound Design Daniel Nixon
Stage Manager- Liberty Gilbert
Assistant Stage Manager -Natalie Lim
Dion Mills, Brigid Gallacher, Kevin Hofbauer, Olga Makeeva_photo by Teresa Nobile Photography

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