atyp Under the Wharf and The Night Whisperer present, THE HIDING PLACE by Kendall Feaver at the atyp Theatre Wharf 4, Hickson Rd.
Isn't it a wonderful thing, and an awful human trait, that, sometimes, when expectations are not so enthusiastic (even low), and still one makes room in one's life for supporting an endeavour, one encounters an experience that is highly, surprisingly, stimulating? One feels so rewarded from that low base of expectation that the tidal flow of pleasure is immense. Or, appears so. The adrenalin rush is so warming. The disinclined effort is rewarded. I am so glad that I overcame my slothful impulse to just stay at home. For, so it was for me last Saturday when I made my way to the atyp Theatre down at Wharf 4 at Hickson Rd. It was cold, I was tired (six hours, wrestling [pleasurably, I assure you] with George Bernard Shaw and his SAINT JOAN). It was a new play by a fledgling company with no track record (yet). But! But, but,but,but ... It did have some young artist's of my acquaintance and they had got off their 'thumbs', and adventured into the terrible waters of self start. The disease of the artist, the need to create is insatiable and won't be appeased - only deep unhappiness can seep through those of us who surrender to inertia. Bitterness can be so debilitating and, ultimately, insidiously so self demeaning. Up, they have struggled to create and present. Up I got, despite the cold, to be, well, surprised.
THE HIDING PLACE is a new Australian play by a writer I have never encountered before, Kendall Feaver. She has begun to track up a very fine grounding of development and in the program is described as "an emerging playwright." On the basis of this one play, I reckon, she has emerged. I was fairly impressed. It is very sophisticated in character. It is very sophisticated in plot structuring. It is very sophisticated in its thematics and poetic heritage. It is, best of all, full of a love for language and its usage, to serve an astounding appetite for complex searching. It feels to be a play deeply lived, felt, stuffed with compassion for the people in her world invention, and with an urgent will to be heard.
From the program:
The unsteady line between folklore and accepted creed has always fascinated me. Both fable and parable are markedly similar as tools for moral instruction and both contain some inherent contradictions. Their terrible violence is masked by the most beautiful of words; they promise a place of safety by creating something to fear; and whether the stories involve a wicked stepmother, a hungry wolf, a plague of locusts or a global flood, they are all reliant on the credulous minds of children to prosper. - Kendall Feaver.Two families, one of two women, one of two men. Both families dysfunctioning - we would judge, if we were not enchanted : dysfunctional. The children meet through a window crossing, and a journey of learning and growing begins. The adults don't really have much journey to willingly take- although they do have one, indeed, they do. It is the children who move from the fables, parables and rules of the worlds that they have inherited and may, one hopes, make a brave new world. The parallel between the play world and the world of THE NIGHT WHISPERERS , the young company who has produced this show, seems immeshed.
Standing behind the magic of Ms Feaver's vision is a young designer, Gez Xavier Mansfield, who has had a prolific artistic time since graduating from design school last year (including his contribution to the recent great production of PUNK ROCK), with a beautiful, immersive set of written dreams on white, hanging papers, of aspirations and inspirations, billowing gently in the breeze of the air's movement, flanked on either side by two real yet redolent rooms of the practical world - one decaying, one pragmatic and lifeless-of this day. Supporting this imagery is another young artist, Sara Swersky, who has enhanced the magic of it all with delicate and supernatural intimations, with an inspired lighting design. Then, to wrap it all in a world of awe, is the aural contribution by another young artist Nate Edmondson who has created a sound composition and design of tremendous detail and beauty. (Mr Edmonson is prolific too, and this work along with his contributions to THE SEAFARER and THE HIGHWAY CROSSING, this year, must set a benchmark for excellence in creative voicing of textual developments and thematic motifs in his playwright's writings, with Sound Designs involving scrupulous script analysis - rare indeed today, in my experience in recent theatre going.)
The actors, all give dedicated performances, and serve the text well, Phillipe Klaus as Patrick, clear, uncluttered and affecting. Michele Durman delicately weaving her way through a role of great challenge. Paul Hooper, a little unhelped by the staging, is impressive as Ross, the lost father, whilst Abi Rayment as the Nana, carer, Mae, is not, as yet, as secure in her journey.
The director in charge of all this is also young, Kai Raisbeck, and he ought to be pleased with the risks and dedication that he has revealed and aroused in his team. What is especially interesting is that Mr Raisbeck has a sense of the importance of tempo, of the possibility in the depth of stillness, of near silences, to communicate, to allow an audience to endow. He has not attempted to make his directorial finger prints glow all over the production, he has, rather, done what any good director ought to do, attempted to illuminate the writing and the writer's intents :the content and craft. Not comment and twist the text, to misinform to some other pre-occupation of his own. (Quell surprise? I think).
All of this was done in a two and half week process. It is a stamp of the fever of these young NIGHT WHISPERERS that this much good work was achieved. I was enchanted and left with an ethereal sense of the lacuna, especially as the harbour was lapping under and around us under a near full moon, of the mysterious dimensions of our worlds, the fable and the parable and reality, the inside, the outside, the real and the unreal, the tangible and the intangible forces that shape us. This work is gloriously promising and goes hand in hand, though they are different in objective experiencing, with THE SPLINTER by Hilary Bell upstairs in the STC Wharf 1 theatre.
Don't be slothful. Here is some future to support that you will be glad to have done. I hope, you will. I am.
All these young artists are arresting, none more so than the writer, Kendall Feaver - keep an eye out- although she is off next week to begin a Masters in Writing for Performance at Goldsmiths, University of London. Let's hope she gets back here. I reckon we need her.