Close your eyes, really tight, breath the clean air and even just a for a second, imagine a bleak and dystopian place that has snatched from us all that is great about this country. Now, was that difficult, or is it not so much of a far reaching prophecy?
For debuting play-write Josephine Collins, this is the backdrop to which her characters and narrative are set. The writing is tightly wound stuff, taking the form of a rambling conversation shared over a pint in some backwater pub with an old timer, busy spinning yarns ’bout old time.
From the perspective of this being the first full length theatrical work written by Collin’s, there’s a finite attention to detail, a strongly developed nuance of the interaction between and the importance of character and back story. The allusion to narrative device is a deliberate choice, lingering questions left post performance. It’s undeniably political without being brash, and a strong example of activism through art. The Way Out touches upon and references the current day in an eerie and eluding way. The mention of bodies being strung up along the exterior of Flinders St Station, a beautiful image and notion to introduce. Here similarities can be drawn to the recent adaption to screen of Atwood’s The Handmaids Tale.
Penny Harpham, director, has really brought to life these characters and their story. Particularly drawing out and using the overriding testosterone seeping from the pores of the loping young male characters. Odd moments of humour appear and simmer, each performer and their intertwined stories ricochet off each other and with a great rhythm found already, so early into it’s season. The richness offered up makes for a strong basis, but some characters do need to soften a little.
Bringing the dystopian future into a visual reality, the work of set designer Charlotte Lane, here transforming the intimate Red Stitch Theatre into a ramshackle pub a location and set not dissimilar to scenes from Fury Road. Lit beautifully, and with elements of the se extending further than the stage itself, this production easily traverses the fourth wall .
Noting that Bruce Springsteen was to some degree the inspiration for the musical score- created by Daniel Dixon, may seem a curious choice, but the more one thinks about this obvious conclusions between countries and times do emerge. His resulting collaboration and work on this production is a nice edition, and gives a cinematic edge to the production.
This work has been a labour of love for so many, with creative development spanning a number of years. Made a reality by Red Stitch and their INK program, it’s a bold choice to support the presentation of new material by a new playwright, and for this Red Stitch have triumphed. Truely great theatre.
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