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Sunday 27 November 2011

God's Ear presented by Pursued By A Bear & dissected by me

Kudos to independent theatre for taking on interesting work and bringing it to the stage. ‘God’s Ear’, written by Jenny Schwartz and presented by Pursued by a Bear at the Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre and under the direction of Jonathan Wald is a surrealistic journey into loss and relationships.

This would not have been an easy play to stage- the linguistic complexities, the heavy subject matter, the stylistic challenges interwoven with an occasional break into song doesn’t always work but for the most part, this play is a pleasant break from tradition.

The opening is a hard ask for any actor, to jump into revealing the death of her son to her husband and although Natasha Beaumont made a good fist of it, she didn’t quite master it. Consequently, it took about 15 minutes to completely commit to the play and the play didn’t fully come to life until Julian Garner’s Ted and Helen O’Leary’s Lenora stole the show with their drunken grab for intimacy and escape. A special mention of O’Leary’s portrayal. It was clear the audience loved every moment.

Having said that, Beaumont’s character of Mel doesn’t offer the same chance of comic dimensions as she is trapped in the grief of a mother that cannot reconcile past and present. There is a some lovely interplay between Cameron Knight’s Guy and Garner's Ted, and engaging vignettes from Kieran Foster, Victoria Greiner and Gael Ballantyne to explore the repetitive text and deliver it with nuance and meaning. Greiner’s role of 8 year old Lanie is always going to be tough for an adult actor to make believable but Schwarz’ dialogue gives Lanie a voice that Greiner presented with energy.

Schwartz’ play is an experiment of form and her manipulation of language is the strongest element. The brief foray into song feels like it was a stream of consciousness choice that probably should have been cut in the editing process but overall, Wald can be happy with his choices in casting and direction. The play with proxemics may have been an obvious choice in exploring Ted and Mel’s relationship but the warmth of the ending made it worthwhile.

If you get a chance to catch this play before it closes, do. It’s worth a viewing.

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