|Photo by Noni Carroll|
National Theatre of Parramatta present, FLIGHT PATHS, by Julian Larnach, in the Lennox Theatre, at The Riverside Theatre, Parramatta. 16th March - 24th March.
FLIGHT PATHS, is a new Australian play, by Julian Larnach.
Two separate stories. One tells us of Emily (Airlie Dodds), a young woman, who goes to Africa as a volunteer to take part in the manual construction of a school for an Australian Humanitarian organisation that she has worked for and admires. She meets another, a jaded volunteer, Charlie (Aileen Huynh), and Adhama (Richie Morris), the leader of the tasks in Africa. The other tells of Luisa (Ebony Vagulans), a 17-year-old African-Australian woman, who on scholarship has travelled to Oxford University to study. In the Orientation Week, she encounters her appointed mentor, Anika (Monica Kumar) and two white men of power, Tom and Max (both, played by Brandon McClelland). The play is a kind of coming of age journey for these two women as they negotiate their 'privileged' way through the realities of a society that maybe not be as pristine in the cloak of optimism that they have endowed it with and believed in.
It is Africa that connects the two women, the two stories.
Made up of many short scenes to encompass the two worlds, FLIGHT PATHS begins in a less than easy manner and does quite destabilise easy access or clarity to what is happening - let alone that these early scenes are burdened distractingly, with some very lame attempts at 'jokes'/comedy. But, a rhythm and gradual identification begins to assert itself through the persistent focus of the young company of actors, and gradually, in a one-act, no-interval 90 minutes, we are drawn into the dilemmas of the women and the moral debate.
Last year we saw another play by Mr Lanarch: IN REAL LIFE, at the Darlinghurst Theatre, and FLIGHT PATHS is in its, ultimately, intertwined scenario, Directed by Anthea Williams, a considerable advance on what was a promising introduction to his writing skills. Ms Williams, has, as well, harnessed the skills of Designer, Jeremy Allen, and on a Traverse stage configuration, in the Lennox Theatre, has moved her actors around on a set of abstract shapes, lit seductively, by Verity Hampson and supported in the many scene crossfades - kept enlivened - with a Sound Design, by Michael Toisuto.
Too, the young company of actors have been gently stretched into their offers, by their director, and account charmingly with subtle nuance the 'unpeeling' of the experience of the naive.
The National Theatre of Parramatta has at last, for me, developed a work of some youthful merit that I can recommend. A promising writer, some very interesting young actors and Design creatives, led securely and intelligently by Anthea Williams.