Sunday, September 11, 2011
Griffin Independent and a collective led by Melbourne based Clare Watson present SMASHED by Lally Katz at the SBW STABLES, Kings Cross.
In Sydney we have not seen much of Lally Katz' work. NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH, the latest play by Ms Katz was recently seen at Belvoir and was a great success. Melbourne friends felt that that play was "Lally" persuaded or interfered with, for they did not think it was the authentic, unadulterated voice/imagination of Ms Katz at her best. Ms Katz may disagree, for from all accounts I've read, she had a great time writing and 'birthing' NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH. Having mostly only read her work, I thought NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH was a conventional shift away from her usual creative bent.
So it was with anticipation that I saw SMASHED the other night. A short (45minutes) work, built in collaboration with many artists across the different disciplines required for theatre making, led by Clare Watson in 2005, this has been a happy reconstruction by the same team of the work. Clare Watson is responsible for the Concept, Direction and Design of the project.
Two female figures, Hazel (Suzannah McDonald) and Ruby (Katherine Tonkin) like giants, hover over a green carpeted floor, with a river/stream winding glitteringly across the space, with scattered delicate constructions to represent a small town: houses, church, caravan etc. - like magic lanterns, lit glowingly from within. The walls of the space lit with little lights like the canopy of the starry universe surround them. Maybe, one of them has been 'smashed', and one of them is reaching back through time and space to reconnect before moving forward alone. A story of grieving, perhaps. That point when 'letting go' is imminent and necessary for the survivor of the relationship. The play scenario is beautifully surreal and tantalisingly a puzzle of gentleness and mixed chronological events.
It is a very delicate work. Conceived, directed, designed by a woman, written by a woman, for women to perform. One feels the power and magic of the energy of the female voice as it interrogates the paths to living in the world. It does feel to have a distinctive female 'tidal' pull.
Like the tone and affect of DIRTYLAND by Elise Hearst and PICTURES OF BRIGHT LIGHTS by Maree Freeman, earlier this year, I find SMASHED a kind of significant relief in watching, listening and experiencing the world through a very interesting prism - that is a female prism, not a male one.
My only unhappiness was in the playing by Ms McDonald and Ms Tonkin who seemed to know too comfortably what they were doing and did not show the depth of identification and passion to these women and their story that they may have had with less certainty under their belt in 2005. They needed to be telling the story for the first improvised time. Fundamentally, I didn't believe them or truly empathise with them. I sat outside them and loved the play and visuals despite them.
The Lighting Design by Richard Vabre was glowing and clean. The Composition and Sound Design by Kelly Ryall inventive and unobtrusively atmospheric.
It could have been a great night in the theatre, it was for me, ultimately only a glimpse at a good and interesting play by a very exciting playwright.