Sunday, November 24, 2013

She’s Not Performing

Tasmanian Theatre Company
Backspace Theatre , Hobart
Written by Alison Mann
Directed by Belinda Bradley

Gai Anderson

Based on research done in the lead up to the National Apology for Forced Adoptions She’s not Performing follows the story of Margarite, one ordinary woman, who 25 years on, is still unable to reconcile her experience of forced adoption. Onstage we watch the consequences of this as her life and sanity unravel before us.

Starting slowly with vignettes alternating from dream sequences to reality, this very tightly written story gives nothing away. Gradually revealing the inner torment of this otherwise seemingly very ordinary women, tension builds palpably as the dark desperation of her hidden trauma begins to seep out, and we wonder how it will all end as her behaviour spirals out of control.

This may sound all too heavy, but its not, as this woman is very real, and the slow revelation of her twisted psycho - sexuality are revelatory rather than clichéd. It certainly gave me some food for thought, whilst for the  most part keeping me on the edge of my seat.

Directed by Belinda Bradley, the pacing is exquisite. The surreal scenes of the protagonist’s inner world in particular are very cleverly realised, with support of striking atmospheric sound and lighting designs of Matt Warren and Jason James. With strong performances from all the caste, in the challenging role as Margarite, Sara Pensalfino managed to walk the fine line between her characters traumatic disconnection from life and her sometimes necessary seeming lack of energy on stage in a very perceptive performance.

I had to push past the crowds that were pouring in the front door of the Theatre Royal for its latest panto-spectacular, to get to the BackSpace on Friday Night. So it was somewhat of a shock to be amongst less than 20 audience members for this riveting show. I could not help but wonder at the future and importance of such locally created theatre reflecting our own stories back to us. Not that I have anything against pantomimes  but it was a stark contrast, and She’s Not Performing is an impressive and powerful show.