Review by Jake Goodall
Love often has its trials and tribulations, but is it murderous? The Curators’ Theatre have brought together three short loving plays tied together with a fantastic score.
Held in the historic Christ Church in Milton, in the heart of Brisbane, this makeshift stage reverberated a resounding eerie vibe – especially during the spooky season! This hall served as a perfect backdrop for the trials and tribulations of Shadows of Love. Following the story of three plays, this production shows us the highlights, the misadventures, and sometimes gruesome side of love!
Lisa Hickey takes ethereal form as The Chanteuse, a songstress that weaves these plays together through music. Hickey, also the director for the Mrs Thally F production of the triptych, was a multi-sectional and talented performer, indeed, the heart and soul of this production.
The Set Design by Michael Beh and Lisa Hickey was visually intriguing, the stage was littered with dolls, wedding dresses, and teacups reminiscent of major items or themes for each play. Central to each performance is a white table that is transformed into many different items throughout.
The costume designed by Michael Beh was remarkable in its recollection of the 1950s. The laid out styles, the patterns and colours worked perfectly with the washed-out monotone of the set. The Lighting Design by Nathaniel Knight was simple, its utilisation of basic colours and spots highlighted each scene.
Erin O’Sea and Dan Hallen’s Sound Design was prestigious. It created an amazing soundscape which intricately brought the audience into the place and setting. A special mention must go to Naz Mulla for some fantastic production photography, which elevated the marketing of this production to the next level!
MRS THALLY F by John Romeril
Mrs Thally F follows the story of Yvonne Fletcher, an innocent and sweet girl who just wants to find love. Yvonne has two husbands who she ultimately murders and thus gets sent to prison! Yvonne Fletcher is played by the wonderful Sherri Smith, who was hyperactive and had energy brimming within their eyes, body language, and character portrayal. It is wonderful to see an actor on stage with energy you can feel!
The ensemble played a multitude of characters from men, mothers, neighbours, whatever was needed on hand. This wonderful ensemble included Bronwyn Nayler, Vivien Whittle and Julie Berry. All of these performers are extremely experienced and helped the play move along with ease and talent. An ensemble is often the core of a production, and this one was fantastic!
The direction for Mrs Thally F by Lisa Hickey was superb, utilising physical theatre and puppetry, this piece had all the makings of a wonderful production. At times it felt a bit cramped, like we were trying to witness every dramatic technique available. However, with that aside, the production was entertaining and stimulating.
TRIFLES by Susan Glaspell (Adapted by Helen Strube)
Trifles follows the story of Minnie Foster, as she was put on trial for the murder of her wife. The neighbours investigated her house and brought her clothing, jam and quilting. However, they find a dead songbird, did that lead Minnie to kill her spouse? We may never know!
Bronwyn Nayler was the standout in this play, though having a mere few lines; she sat on a stool the entire production making origami cranes with a saddened look on her face. As an actor it is extremely hard to maintain a sense of sadness and stage presence for an immense amount of time, and yet Nayler was successful and believable in the accomplishment, which was excellent.
Mrs Hale and Mrs Peters were played by Eleonora Gianardi and Caroline Sparrow respectively. Both Gianardi and Sparrow displayed what talent and capability they have as actors, wherein they assisted in creating depth for Minnie Foster from a different angle. Mr Henderson was played by James Kable – an efficient actor who helped to move the story along. Trifles could have included some more emotion in line delivery and more movement, although overall it was an entertaining play.
The Direction by Helen Strube was simple and plain. Strube utilised audience entrances and alternative exits to shock and draw the audience into the action.
THE STRONGER by August Strindberg (Adapted by Helen Strube & Lisa Hickey)
This play followed Isabella and Amelia as they contemplated their life and a potential cheating husband.
Isabella, played by Lisa Hickey, was wondrous. Hickey gave a stellar performance that injected depth and breadth into Isabella and the horrors of finding out that their husband is cheating on them. Hickey commanded the stage with an incredible presence that enthralled the audience at every turn.
Amelia played by Caroline Sparrow was cool, calm, and collected, dressed in all black. Sparrow played this mistress with a sly and suave sophistication. She took everything Hickey gave her and built the rage, further, and further.
The Direction by Helen Strube was simple and effective. Blocking a mere two actors on stage is an intricate and difficult task, but Strube has excelled in this piece. The movements are natural and planned and assist extremely well in conveying the story.
Above all, Shadows of Love was an intriguing production perfectly placed in the heart of Brisbane. Each actor has brought passion and drive to this show. This is a wonderful night out at Brisbane Fringe for any theatre lover! All that’s left to say is BRAVO!
Shadows of Love: A Triptych will play until November 6th at The Christ Church Milton as part of Brisbane Fringe. For more information visit The Curators website.