Tonight was the Victorian premiere of Echoes at Theatre Works, St Kilda.
Echoes is a brutal story of 2 women born 1.75 centuries apart yet such a parallelled existence after leaving the same Australian town of Ipswich to serve the ‘needs’ of the old and neo colonialists.
The play is a very harsh story, with a strong strain of humorous, poignant moments, telling the story of a 17-year-old Ipswich girl who runs to Syria to become a Jihadi bride Rehana played by Filipa Bragança in her first association with writer Henry Naylor.
Naylor cross references the experiences of another 17-year-old Ipswich girl who was sent to fulfil wifely duties for an officer of the British Raj in India. His treatment of this script extracts the pain and dark humour from this confronting observation of neo colonial injustices.
Tillie, played by Rachel Smyth, soon finds out the romanticism of Colonial glories and doing it all for King and country wasn’t what it was cracked up to be, instead she finds herself living a demeaning and brutal existence in a loveless relationship with a scoundrel of a man, a man whose calls for her to ‘serve’ him so as to bolster the kingdom’s numbers echoed the very same calls from Jihadi neo colonialists ISIS and their view of women as chattels of the state and religion.
A nuanced, two handed show, both performers ever present on stage, delivering alternative monologues that drive the story at such a pace you are swept with them on this sad, terrifying journey to find that both realise their own freedom of choice in the end.
Both Smyth and Bragança deliver faultless performances drawing deeply from the well of women’s consciousness of past oppression and current issues still haunting society in regards to equality.
The actors although appearing on stage together are delivering their stories from their timeline and the lighting allowed us to easily follow in which century we were being taken but moment in the play where the pitch was at fever point, rapid fire highly charged deliveries that find both girls hands touched across time as these strong young women recognize each other’s reality, a sense of power there in the scene, the connection evocates the very point of the play I believe.
Echoes is written, produced and co-directed by Henry Naylor, famed for his British TV humour and Spitting Image top writer, it has been a multi award winner and has had success at Adelaide Fringe where it broke records by winning five major awards (including Best Theatre). In Prague Echoes received both the Creative Award and Outstanding Performer Award.
It has also played Off-West End in London, and Off-Broadway in New York with an award-winning season at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe and now playing for 5 more nights at Theatre Works in Acland Street.
Other recent works of Naylor’s are the 3-part series, The Arabian Nightmares, about events happening now in the Middle East, his previously released The Collector, Echoes and yet to be seen Angel, which will debut at the 2017 Adelaide Fringe.
I highly recommend trying to get tickets for Echoes, judging by tonight’s full house it would be advisable to book now!
ONLY 5 DAYS LEFT!
Presented by: Gilded Balloon in Association with Redbeard Theatre
Written by Henry Naylor // Directed by Henry Naylor and Emma Butler
Performed by Filipa Braganca and Rachel Smyth
Edited by Lisa Romeo