Sometimes, the people you're closest to are often the ones you feel the most distant from, and it's this idea of never really knowing the relationship you're in that hangs darkly over Brooke Robinson's new play, Animal/People at Bondi Pavilion Theatre, Bondi Beach.
At once jarring and provocative, Animal/People shows the audience two sides to the same existence. A man and a woman (who are literally just listed as "Man" and "Woman" in the cast), played by Martin Crewes and Georgina Adamson speak directly to the audience about their experiences of some kind of suburban existence. It's a little violent and uncomfortable, and director James Dalton makes sure the two are on very shaky ground as they discover truths about their lives that leave them feeling at odds with whatever they've known before.
Robinson's dialogue-heavy script is well-crafted, and probably adds to the unease the characters feel. The man and woman are just like the rest of us, they go to work, they have families, they have responsibilities. The dialogue, however, is delivered to the audience directly, often times at the front of the stage, so that it seems like we're listening to their inner monologues as they progress through the play. In this way, the character's need to be understood through their confusion and their actions is much or urgent. It's like they're imploring us to not just understand them, but to offer them some sort of explanation for their actions.
But what about the characters' indiscretions, and how do they work through what they've done? The man admits to leaving an injured woman in a parking lot, whilst the woman battles with issues of professional and personal discretion following a patient's x-ray results.
A lot of elements here work to make you feel uneasy with what you're hearing on stage, from Benjamin Brockman's jolting lighting to Dylan Tonkin's stage design, which looks and feels as if you're left out cold.
Animal/People isn't for anyone expecting a lovely study in modern life, but if you want to be shaken up, this is for you.
Animal/People is on now at 8pm, at Bondi Pavilion Theatre, Bondi until 16th May