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Sunday, 2 October 2011

Griffin's 'Smashed' directed by Clare Watson & dissected by me

This short play, showing at the Stables Theatre and directed by Clare Watson is a reproduction of the first staging of the play in 2005.

Watson refers to the collaborative approach to creating this work and the play does exude that sense of ensemble, sometimes at the expense of polish or coherence. But having said that, I found some of the moments of the play interesting, such as the idea that friends live in our memory and even when they don’t exist in our lives anymore, they still have impact in our choices, actions and future.

I enjoyed the non-linear approach to narrative in exploring the relationships between characters. This is a hard technique to pull off and it didn’t always work but kudos to writer Katz for the attempt and using it to question our own accuracy in recalling events and the stream of consciousness and triggers of our own memory.

This production brought back memories for me too- I thoroughly enjoyed the trip into 80’s music, especially Toto’s ‘Africa’.  There’s nothing like the 80’s to make you reminisce about your own past and those who impacted in our lives and paths.

I liked Miller’s set that attempted to crystallise the ideas of the play- model dollhouses representing places and times past as well as youthful innocence and the notion of looking into our lives as ‘grown’ outsiders. It was visually interesting and even though the set wasn’t fully realised in the play’s direction, it did give moments for the actors to interact with their memories in this small rough stage space.

Actors Suzannah McDonald and Katherine Tonkin showed skill in breathing life into these characters. The farmyard horror stories were a highlight, as was the ending of stripping off Hazel’s costume and ‘leaving it by the road’- a lovely directorial decision to impact Hazel’s end and Ruby’s grief. I will say that 6 years ago when these actors were straight out of acting school and performing this the first time round that the characters may have had more currency because in this production they felt a bit too old for the roles.

Overall I enjoyed this production. Katz has had a very good year on the Sydney Theatre scene and certainly seems to be a talent on the rise. I commend Griffin’s choice to invest in upcoming Australian writers and charge realistic admission prices. Even though their shows can be hit and miss, the rationale of supporting the local scene will keep me subscribing.

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