|Photo by David Hooley
Brave New World presents, LIE WITH ME, by Liz Hobart, at The Old 505 Theatre, 5 Eliza St, Newtown. 2 - 13 October.
LIE WITH ME, is a new Australian work by Liz Hobart. This is a new iteration of this project that has been in development over a period of almost 2 years.
It examines the circumstances of a 'serial' killer. It focuses in on the parents of the young man - Sebastian - and the devastating effects that it has on them. Questions of responsibility in the manners and hazards of bringing up a child - whether the unhappy marriage shadowed the young son's choices - talk of whether the behaviour was generated by Nurture or Nature, and the concept of what is evil, surface during this near 90 minute presentation.
It, too, illustrates the collateral damage to this family in the glare of a relentlessly interested media, and shows the different mechanisms that the mother and father use to weather the gratuitous appetite of the public's interest and the psychological pressure effect exercised upon them - although, LIE WITH ME, has an Australian location the case of American, Jeffery Dahmer, seems to be a catalyst to the play's inquiry, although, not exclusively.
This story is told by three women, Lyn Pierse, Nathalie Murray and Julia Robertson, necessitating that they play all the roles - male or female - invented by the writer and co-devisor, Director, Warwick Doddrell.
Ms Pierse, as the mother, Janice, sits in the central position of our interest, and invests considerable focus, empathy and professional skill in maintaining character exposition and interrogation. She manages to present, within the opportunities of the writing, a complex woman of simple needs, thrust, unexpectedly, into the spotlight of insatiable curiosity. There is neither sentimentality nor histrionics in the creation of this woman but, with the strength of Ms Pierse's presence, we are given a woman that demands our respect for her great personal difficulties and ultimate tragedy. This is an amazing theatrical 'coup' from Ms Pierse, for, when one watches closely and observes that besides creating and charting the dilemma of Janice, Ms Pierse, as well, is having to also to be a technical 'instrument' - stage-hand - in the moving of the furniture, props etc to facilitate the action circumscribed by the writer and Director - at one stage managing the positioning of 10 chairs and a table, by herself, in the midst of the progress of the narrative.
This multifarious bind of tasks, no less encumbers, Ms Murray and Robertson in being able to deliver a clear demarcation for the number of characters and dramaturgical functions each has narrative responsibility for. Both these actors are astonishing to the commitment of the demands of the production both character-wise and technically, negotiating the demands of the Director with élan.
There is ambition and a vision in the staging 'manner' that Mr Doddrell is pursuing, although, for me, it sometimes overweighed the clarity of the story, and distracts from the content interest in the writing. This was a flaw in his recent production modes for STUPID FUCKING BIRD, which was burdened with Directorial/Auteurial flourishes at the expense of the clarity of the storytelling, of the writing. Set and Costume, by Isabella Andronos; Lighting Design, by Sophie Pekbilimli; Sound Design, by Ben Hinchley: complicated tasks well executed under demanding terms.
The collaboration with the writer Liz Hobart, by Mr Doddrell, needs a stricter focus/control on the number of strands of concern/debate/enquiry - its interests are too diverse and/or are not always fully woven into a co-herent fabric. The text needs more discipline, a clearer focus, editing.
LIE WITH ME, is interesting for not focusing on the "Monster" but rather on those innocents about it and the rippling 'waves' of consequence that tragically envelopes them. Not, necessarily, as subject matter under explored, but, empathetically, a serious position of focus for a world where the news can become a cause celebre engulfing all in its wake, tragically, disastrously.