Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Company I Keep

Performed by the Second Echo Ensemble
Tasmanian Theatre Company and Cosmos
Thursday May 20, Friday May 21, Saturday May 22
Peacock Theatre

by Stephenie Cahalan

Eleven actors on stage and many more on a screen, minimalist lighting, movement, soliloquies on love, nervousness, wanting to look and be our best. The need for approval. The need for love.

This is essentially what The Company I Keep explores, and does so artfully and engagingly. The story stands alone and would work for any cast, be they professionals or amateurs, from any background. This cast happens to include five people who might be considered intellectually disabled, yet are clearly emotionally intelligent performers and highly competent actors. Creator and director Finegan Krukemeyer has made a piece of theatre that makes the stage a level playing field for every person that occupies it; a liberating experience for performer and audience alike.


This is a beautiful and funny production. Visually pleasing in its simplicity of lighting and staging, the video component by Solid Orange is particularly well-composed. Rather than becoming an intruder on the stage, the split-level screen and the intimate feeling of the relationships portrayed gives the feeling that additional cast-members are not projected, but are really there in the theatre. The music is beautiful and effective; its occasional repetition helping to connect the threads of the story.

The Second Echo Ensemble is a collaboration between the Tasmanian Theatre company and Cosmos. It is an excellent reminder of how effective such partnerships are and the importance of a local company that not only offers productions, but also brings local people and their experiences onto the stage. In this case, the result is empathy and empowerment, as well as great theatre.

This is a production that should not be missed. There was barely an empty seat in the Peacock Theatre on Thursday night, and hopefully this will be the case on Friday and Saturday too.

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