I'm a freelance actor, travel writer, photographer, foodie and attention seeker living in the lower North Shore. Check out my blog at www.emmajaneexplores.com for more.
Two plays in one night
Sex & Death is the title under which two short plays are being presented at the Blood Moon Theatre by DKL Productions. The double bill is made up of Something in the Basement by Don Nigro and It's Time by Garreth Cruickshank and contain themes of (you guessed it) sex and death amongst other things.
The evening starts with 'Something in the Basement', an absurdist piece about a middle-aged couple and the breakdown of their relationship which seems to have something to do with the noises they keep hearing in the basement. The play itself is just okay – it feels repetitive, but that's more to do with the script than the performances. Garreth Cruickshank has taken on the role of director for both pieces and he does well to stage his version on the very small stage at the Blood Moon Theatre. Annette van Roden does a good job as the fed up and looking-for-a-change wife; her exasperation at her husband's inadequacies well communicated and her quick one-liners delivered with sass. As the husband, Philip, David Luke seems a little out of his depth with this role and whilst it's evident he has acting skill, the role doesn't seem to suit him. The two actors navigate the script and small space well, and there are real moments of humour that have the audience laughing.
Act two commences with an original work, 'It's Time', written by director Garreth Cruickshank. This piece takes us back to the night Gough Whitlam was elected, as we watch a mother and son putting up modest decorations for his twenty-first birthday. As they decorate, we learn about why the mother left her husband and uncover a tragic family secret. The play comments on the difficulty of dealing with domestic abuse and the lasting effects it has on those who live with it. The play is most impactful in the violent flashbacks as the mother recalls the abuse but should probably come with a trigger warning as in this intimate setting, the couple of violent incidents could potentially be upsetting.
Russell Cronin does well in his portrayal of wide-eyed innocence as the son learning about his family secrets and Annette van Roden re-appears to tackle a completely different role as the repressed and battered mother, showing great versatility. Jack Douglas takes on two polar opposite roles in this short piece – one as a sort of narrator and friend of the son (in a hilarious wig) and secondly as the abusive husband in the flashback sequences. Douglas' ability to transition quickly between the comedic and brutal is extremely impressive. Kitty Hopwood rounds out the cast in dual roles as the daughter and then the young mother in flashbacks. Hopwood does well in her flashback scenes, capturing the fear and hopelessness of the situation well. As the daughter, however, her interpretation seems a little one-level and I would like to see more vulnerability from her in the play's final moments, with the anger dialled down.
All in all, Sex & Death is an interesting evening at the theatre. These are two very different works presented and performed by hard-working actors and creatives who have managed to create a unique double bill.