Friday, April 25, 2008
The Griffin Theatre Company presented a revival production of Michael Gow’s THE KID at the Stables Theatre. It is 25 years since the original outing. I remember the play of three young underprivileged teenagers coming to the city to claim compensation from the Department and their adventures, meetings and disasters being confronting and moving. Gow had originally sewn in Wagner’s Ring as a hook during the scene breaks that gave the piece pathos and a grounding. It is interesting to see the play now, post 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel-Gaza, Hurricane Katrina and the gentle threat of catastrophic Climate Change and the rise of Fundamentalism in Religions.
Immediately, on a set of brutalistic concrete, discomfortingly covered in manga-cartoon graffiti Art the actors hurtle into the action of the play with a great deal of commitment and exciting concentration. It maybe too loud (certainly some of the actors seemed to have strained their voices) and maybe too much energy without relief of contrasting stillness or subtlety push the audience to lots of bewildered watching, trying to catch onto the narrative of the play but the concept of the direction and design is clear. The Apocalypse is nigh. IS HERE.!!!!
The director, Tom Healey and his Design team: Set and Costume by Gabrielle Logan (wonderful) Lighting by a brilliant Luiz Pampolha overwhelm us with the accumulating bleakness of the play and our times. The acting is of a high quality. Mark Pegler playing several characters has the foreboding of doom and danger about him in each incarnation. Yael Stone the brutalised victim (Desire) espousing the coming Apocalypse is marvellous in her big scene of selling her church’s teaching. She had me listening and gasping in horror and disbelief. I felt grief and pity for her. (Sometimes physically a touch over stated.) But the best work came from Eamon Farren as a marginalised youth (Donald) looking for a world to live in ,who finally becomes the comforter and survivor of the journey. He quietly listens and watches with deft compassion and offers love in a terrifying world. In this dehumanising world he comes to carry our hopes for a future. Sensibly judged in the hurly burly of the other actors his sensitivity and revealed inner life becomes a touch stone for the audience to rest in, hope in. Akos Armont charts the journey of the charismatic but flawed leader (Dean) a little to well. There is a sense of contrivance sometimes of the actor telling his characters’ story , and the humanity of the pain of this truly disengaged human is not always deeply touched on. The performance has interest but doesn’t draw compassion from us. This was not an easy night in the theatre (nearly two hours of full bent contemporary noise and ugliness) but worthy of the time given by audience. It was wonderful to see this play reconfigured for our times. It worked 25 years ago and in this production still does.