Venue: Drama Barn
Writer/Director: Sarah Goddard
Starring: Jessica Hill, James Quelch, Robert Kodama
Sarah Goddard’s short play ambitiously seeks to convey an author’s descent into madness. Daniel (Robert Kodama) is inspired by the case of a guilty murderess, Alice (Jessica Hill) and becomes obsessed with documenting her apparent innocence. As the play progresses his words confuse truth and fiction.
Robert Kodama admirably took on the challenging role of Daniel at late notice. Playing an infatuated author, he so often recited from his notepad that he could have been reading lines from his script. His muse, however, gave what was undoubtedly the finest performance of the night, whether silent or passionately engaging with her monologues.
The dialogue was intelligent and perceptive, although the characterisations could have been developed further. Perhaps because of trying to convey a 50 minute metamorphosis into insanity, the script lacked cohesion and, as claimed, “[stretched] into the realm of the absurd”. The intentional repetition of similar scenes, each an embellishment of the former, sought to illustrate the progression of Daniel’s literary lunacy. The choice of implementing a narrator, although played brilliantly by James Quelch, was arguably superfluous.
The staccato of the several long, avoidable set changes, dampened the tension created by the actors and well executed lighting. This aside, Sarah Goddard’s direction and use of theatrical devices were interesting. She experimented with dialogue flowing from mid-conversation to stream of consciousness. Possibly the most successful convention was the use of masked figures, creating innovative layers and parallels to the scenes.
Excessive use of smoke machines, stocked portrayal of women and several unnecessary roles, certainly added to the absurdity of the production. Not to mention a bizarre attempt at humour and the difficult but poor performance of the protagonist, whose monologues were often unintelligible. Overall, an enjoyable play, although perhaps not for the reasons intended.