Thursday, March 17, 2011

These are the Isolate

Mutation Theatre - these are the isolate from storybottle on Vimeo.

Last night I dragged my old lady self over to Theatreworks in St Kilda on the direct request of a young man named Tim Wotherspoon. I get many invitations to see theatre and I am generally crap at attending. I have many great excuses but the reality is theatre is my business and it is totally moronic that I don't go very much (a recent resolution made this year is to ATTEND!).

I am not a theatre reviewer but I am a playwright and there are two things I particularly like seeing. Plays by women, and plays that in some manner subvert realism. So when I see something I like I want to support it in anyway I can. It can be cold out there in EmergingTheatreMaker Land. So I am writing this record of my experience now in the hope that someone may take it upon themselves to go and see this play. It is worth the drive.

These are the Isolate is a tight, claustrophobic, oppressive two-hander. It was hard to breath for the 45 minute duration and this highly visceral experience is evidence of how well this writing works. The fact that there were moments that I was laughing out loud amidst the feeling of drowning in despair is proof of the writing's subtlety and beauty. The play, by Katy Warner, has a muted lyricism and a masterful use of repetition. The words are used against themselves. They contradict and undermine their speaker. Meaning is constantly shifting. I adore this sophisticated, disciplined use of language. Every word matters.

My only issue with the writing is about how much is revealed in terms of cause and effect. I didn't need to know quite so much about what had brought this man to his knees. It is life happening, and people have thrown themselves off cliff tops for far less.

The revelation of the evening was Tim Wotherspoon. His performance was understated, devastating, outstanding. Last week, in an effort to support my aforementioned resolution, I saw Apologia with Robyn Nevin. That was the first time I had seen the Grand Dame of Australian theatre in action and she was as brilliant as I anticipated. Watching her perform was weightless. By this I simply mean I could float along with her, no crashing back to Earth with a badly delivered line or a dropped accent. I was wrapped up in her performance. Dare I say it, Tim Wotherspoon's performance was comparable. It was deeply satisfying to watch him.

The other outstanding element of the production is the use of the cavernous space that is TheatreWorks. Set-less, the performers are supported only by light and shadow and I was captivated. A single candle, at moments, was all that lit the performers face, and deep, menacing shadows acted as backdrops to the action. It was a revelation that so much can be achieved with so little and much of this success is in the hands of lighting designer Katie Sfetkidis. I am an avid supporter of theatre being, at its best, bodies in a space, and this production demonstrated that without losing out on aesthetic. This was a beautifully realised mise-en-scene. The play fit the space. The great black emptiness drowning the isolated man in his own oblivion. Beautiful.

Do go and see it. There are moments of greatness in this piece, and for certain many more to come from this group.

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