It's been too long in between theatre visits for me, so on Friday night I braved the cold and visited the New Theatre for a Sydney Fringe triple bill...
Murder in the Dark
The world's fascination with whodunnits and crime shows is indicative of one thing: A killer's mind is a fascinating and terrible thing. It's a point of view so different to the norm, so twisted out of the usual day to day grind that it makes people want to know why and how it happens.
This stage adaptation of Margaret Atwood's Murder in the Dark is a view into one such mind. Through a series of small snippets we are drawn into the life of a killer, never quite sure of what is going to happen next.
While occasionally this production feels a little disjointed, over the course of the piece it becomes apparent how it all fits in together. The cast (Richard Drysdale, Samantha Neaves and Scott Clare) do an amazing job, moving seamlessly through the harshly cut scenes. Awkward silences, the addition of well chosen music and crafty use of lighting only adds to the eerie atmosphere, helping to make sure the audience isn't feeling at ease. Overall a very solid piece.
February is the shortest piece of the triple bill, but as a child of Sydney suburbia it's one that spoke volumes to me. Two girls, both trapped in the suburb of their childhood but for very different reasons, are reliving the past and recounting the events that have brought them to where they are today.
The emotion in this piece was absolutely incredible - I was actually blinking back tears at times. Madeleine Jones (Clare) and Felicity Keep (Frankie) really manage to capture the spirit of their characters and they work so well together - there's one particular scene where they are both fighting for your attention and I can tell you, it's not easy to choose either.
This particular piece could easily have been sustained for longer, as there's so much more that could be explored and brought out. As it is, I was left wanting to know more, yet at the same time I had so much to think about from the complexity and twists in the plot. One thing I was definitely left with was how some things just don't change, even though the times apparently have.
After dealing with the heavy issues of Murder in the Dark and February, Time is a little bit of comic relief of the black variety. A successful single woman, an uninvited guest and a few surprise discoveries all add up to an entertaining show.
The story is a well worn idea that has been done many, many times (fans of Terry Pratchett and Monty Python will recognise it for what it is pretty quickly), but the cast and the script really it carry it through and give it a breath of life. Shannon Rae Kappes (Samantha) and Christopher Sellers (the Guest) have an incredible rapport on stage, bringing a sense of the normal to something that is anything but.
I found this production a little predictable (I'm blaming that on my love for all things Pratchett) but that's no bad thing, especially with this piece's place in the repertory. It also doesn't hold back with making the audience question their very existence - there's something about the way Samantha learns how to live for the moment that really gives you a jolt.
I really enjoyed the entire repertory - each of the pieces has their own mark and left you thinking about something different, yet they fit in very well together. I also found that the themes of the Sydney Fringe were very well represented. Spot the black sheep...
Murder in the Dark/February/Time is on at the New Theatre as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival. $24/$20 concession.