Presented by State Theatre Company South Australia
Reviewed 17th August 2021
We have been waiting a while for another Australian playwright of worth to emerge and Finegan Kruckemeyer has proved, with the opening of Hibernation at The Dunstan Playhouse, that he is a force to be reckoned with.
From the moment the curtain rises to the majestic theme of the opening music to reveal Jonathon Oxlade’s pristine white set we know we are in for an evening to remember. In his Director’s notes, Mitchell Butel poses the question can art, can theatre effect social change? And that is exactly what he has done in the elegant and effective realisation and staging of this exciting new piece of writing. The writing is sharp, elegant, witty and sometimes downright challenging but above all world class. The premise is controversial and deals with the problem the planet is facing right now with an air of inevitability that is thought provoking and frankly terrifying. The staging is epic, gladiatorial, conspiratorial and sensitive. The characters are finely drawn and a line or two of dialogue establishes their time, place and purpose. This draws the play and its themes together to engage the audience in a parable that is designed to provoke an emotional response from the audience. It does, with more than the occasional punch to the gut.
It takes a fine ensemble of actors to fulfil the purpose of a piece of complex writing, it takes a visionary director with flair to sew it together and it takes a talented writer to create a modern day stetting in which to play out the politics and pitfalls of an idea that will change the world. Chris Asimos, Rosalba Clemente, Rashidi Edward, Elizabeth Hay, Ezra Juanta, Ansuya Nathan, Mark Saturno, James Smith, Kialea-Nadine Williams and Poppy Kelly bring this piece of work to life with a truth and intelligence that lifts and transports the audience around the world to experience the highs and lows created by forced change. They embody the unexpected, the predicted, and the outcomes that force us to change how we behave in a civilised society. It’s hard to pick out a performance that shines above the others but Rosalba Clemente’s South American Nonna, Mark Saturno’s despicable politician and Ansuya Nathan’s portrayal of the accidental genius deserve special mention – but so does every other member of this gifted ensemble. I cannot begin to explain the dilemma that this play created in my thinking as I was entertained, outraged, moved and provoked by this exciting new work by a playwright whose voice will echo around the world.
We must do something to change behaviour internationally before we destroy our beautiful blue planet. Has Kruckemeyer come up with an alternative? There is so much to contemplate from this extraordinary piece of work that forces us to think about the damage we are doing to our planet by ignoring the effects of climate change and how and where will we find the solution.
This has been a moment worth waiting for. Mitchell Butel continues to make his mark on the South Australian State Theatre Company. And yes Mitchell, art and theatre can, and should, effect social change. Keep posing the questions and hold that mirror up to society, that’s our job!
Reviewed by Adrian Barnes
Rating out of 5: 5
Venue: Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: 13 – 28 August 2021
Duration: Approx 2 hours 50 mins (including Interval)
Contains coarse language, smoking of herbal cigarettes, theatrical smoke and haze effects, prop firearms and adult themes.
Age guide – 15+
Photo Credit: Matt Byrne