There is so much to digest here in this performance, it’s well crafted, spine tingling theatre, that is as obscure as it is relatable. Central to this work, is a tight and well-crafted script which places the story of Adam and Eve, Salom and John the Baptist against moments that are all together more autobiographical. Yarn is as intimate as it is at time’s an uncomfortable experience. The way in which Lily Fish masterfully weaves these two counter narratives into a tightly woven and densely lyrical performance is a sheer joy to watch. Drawing on her continued training in physical theatre Fish’s physicality is impressive; director Andrew Gray should be commended for drawing up this and really utilizing such strengths to this performance’s advantage. At onepoint Fish quite literally climbing the walls of the theatre, the site specificity within this imagined world is perhaps the best example of the form in recent times.
If you go deeper into this work however, you also uncover at its heart themes surrounding feminism, belonging and identity, and though these themes are often recurring in works presented in the “now”, taking them back and relating them to stories from the bible, helps differentiate this work from others, and giving it a certain edge.
Originally staged at The Tapestry Workshops in South Melbourne, however beautiful, this setting gave a sense of polish to this performance, which in this remount is thankfully lacking. Taking Yarn out of a somewhat pristine environment and placing it in the raw, gritty atmosphere of La Mama, provides a darker shade to the performance, the interior of this theatre embodies the ugly side to these stories, allowing the performer to further transcend into a dark and reflective world. Yet, however shady the material central to Yarn is, it to affords some much needed moments of reflective humor, which in turn helps strengthen this work, painting a far more details picture.
The lighting design is beautiful, creating dramatic shifts which propel the story through various scenes, different lighting states also helping to activate space, creating greater depth not just to the performance but within the physical space that is the La Mama Theatre. Sound design is masterful, using recognizable sounds and excerpts that create further resonance and emotional hooks of which in turn foster a greater sense of connection between performance and audience.
Set design, drawing upon the performance title see’s the space filled with large amount of twisted rope, and yarn, however beautiful, one thing that is lacking here is a greater sense of integration between this device and the performance itself, at times it is seemingly nothing more than a superfluous add on’s, creating nothing more than visual noise.
It’s not often that independently produced theatre gets the chance for a second airing, even less often that a production is deserving of this opportunity. However, Yarn, in its quality of story and impressive deliverance, matched equally by such a dynamic production, is an exception to both these rules. Melbourne needs more of this style of theatre, it’s playing at La Mama until the 19th of June book your tickets here