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Category Archives: ANU Drama Lab

Death and the Maiden

death-and-the-maidenI’ve heard of Death and the Maiden for many years, but I had never seen it, so it was fitting that my first exposure to it occurred at the ANU Drama Lab, where I enjoyed so many lectures as an undergraduate (and a member of NUTS). I really had no idea what I was missing: what a thrilling little psychodrama it turned out to be!

Though it is set in the aftermath of Augusto Pinochet’s removal as president of Chile, it deals with universal themes of forgiveness and the pursuit of justice. Dorfman’s script is astutely sparse, leaving a lot of room for creatives to work these themes through.

And Sammy Moynihan has taken on that challenge admirably.

This production is suitably spartan, with white walls allowing for characters to play in the shadows throughout, a perfect symbol for their shadowy dealings and the uncertainty of their histories. In this era of dodgy dealings and questionable political machinations throughout the Anglosphere, this play is eerily relevant, and mildly disturbing.

Daniel Greiss gives a stand-out performance as Roberto in this production. He manages to elicit pathos without quite nailing down his innocence (or otherwise) for the audience. Georgia-Cate Westcott’s Paulina is suitably unstable and unnerving, and Regis Hiljekamp, as her husband Gerardo, meets her unbalanced mind with unnerving appropriateness and an increasing imbalance of his own.

While the timing was off for lighting changes and occasionally for dialogue, the cast maintained an air of uncertainty, aided impeccably by a spectacular string quartet directed by Enrica Wong. Actually, even if it weren’t for Dorfman’s script and some lovely performances, this production would be worth the effort just to hear the quartet.

This is an impressive production for NUTS, and I’m glad I got to see it.

 

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The Goat, or Who is Sylvia

I have long admired the work of Edward Albee. He’s pretty funny, for an American. And Moonlight’s production of The Goat, or Who is Sylvia was by far the most enjoyable thing I have seen on stage in Canberra since Rep did Noises Off last year. Wall to wall laughs were delivered by a talented cast under the direction of Bridget Balodis, who obviously understands timing and has an excellent command of the dramatic fluctuations of Albee’s work.

The play centres on the infidelity of Martin, and its impact on his small family. Jerry Hearn was assigned a difficult task in the role of Martin; to play a dramatic role in a comedy and do it well is an accomplishment in itself. Christa de Jager also toed the line very carefully between the intense drama of her role, and its comic one-liners. Sam Yeo, playing their son Billy, had a difficult time keeping a straight face as he began his hilarious journey, but his energy and timing, like that of the rest of the cast, was superb.

In all, a great night out. It was nice to be back in my old stomping ground of the ANU Drama Lab, but I was very disappointed with the enormous new seating: in order to avoid DVT I had to sit on an angle with my legs in the aisle, and crane my neck around to see the stage. The designers obviously didn’t consider the fact that many Australians are taller than a metre, or maybe they only expected children to be coming…

 

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