Presented by [email protected] and Adelaide Duende Collective
Reviewed Saturday 10th November 2012
Duende was formed with the intention of presenting new Australian works and this new piece, from Adelaide writer Alan Grace, directed by Dee Easton, is their current production, a walk on the dark side that is a challenge for both the cast and the audience..
The production features three well-known Adelaide actors: Laura Brenko, Amy Victoria Brooks, and Nathan Porteous, each taking turns in a series of changing places in a three way scenario, as two performers interact in view of the audience, while the third sits in a translucent box, watching and commenting like a Greek chorus.
As the work begins, Brooks sits in the window in her neck to knee Victorian underwear, a location that will become significant later. She recites poetry as she looks at her reflection in a mirror and applies her make up, with the other two sitting on a mattress, listening. She goes through a string of roles covering a range of emotional situations. There follows a series of short scenes dealing with a wide range of range of sexual encounters. It seems that one is a prostitute and the other a client, reliving past occurrences. The window seat becomes clear, with its reference to the red light district of Amsterdam.
The poetry of the opening continues throughout, but this is nearer to the poetry of a Shakespearean bloodbath than a treatise on daffodils. Oddly, the alliteration on the word ‘back’ that occurs at intervals, reminded me of the similar alliteration in Under Milk Wood where Dylan Thomas writes, “the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboatbobbing sea”.
These role plays are not light hearted, fun romps, but dark and confronting. They encompass the sinister, the taboo, but what is what and who is who is never quite clear. Which is a memory and which is an invention is debatable, some seem innocent enough, others delve into places some would like to ignore, including child abuse.
Dee Easton has selected her cast well and created a fascinating piece of often surreal theatre that is definitely not for the faint hearted. Laura Brenko, Amy Victoria Brooks, and Nathan Porteous are given the difficult job of creating a set of characters, and their many alter egos, and putting them through all of the emotionally charged sex games that they play. These three combine their talents in superb performances, whether as father and daughter, young lovers, or prostitute and client, with the sex of the actor and the sex of the character often reversed.
Although each actor gives a range of quite amazing individual performances, the ensemble work is also outstanding. The potential that was seen in these actors early in their careers has been confirmed and they continue to grow
This is a long way from the usual theatre production and, as good theatre should, it expects something from the audience beyond sitting passively watching the performance. It engages the audience powerfully and assumes that the audience is intelligent. This, in itself, is refreshing.
The design by Jenn Havelberg, includes the aforementioned translucent box and includes large steel frame structures to either side, partly fitted with triangles of frosted glass, while the floor around the mattress is covered with tiny scraps of coloured paper. Coupled with impressively designed lighting and a subtle sound design, it is all strongly linked to the action.
This is another of the sort of productions that we have come to expect at the Bakehouse, challenging, exciting and different. This is a small venue, so book quickly. Don’t miss this one.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.
Photo: Calen Vanstone (Nathan Porteous and Amy Victoria Brooks)
Venue: Bakehouse Theatre, 255 Angas Street, Adelaide
Season: 8pm to 24th November 2012
Duration: 1hr 10mins
Tickets: Adult $22/conc $18
Bookings: here or at the door (subject to availability)