Saturday, June 06, 2009

Here's one I prepared earlier: Red Sky Morning

Red Sky Morning might not be the best show Melbourne's upstart theatre company Red Stitch staged last year -- that gong probably belongs to Pool (No Water) -- but it's right up there, and well worth a return season. It gets one, here, courtesy of the Arts Centre's Full Tilt programme.

Tom Holloway's script picked up the 2008 Green Room "New Writing for the Australian Stage" award.

Here's my review of the premiere, last August.

If ever the state government decides that Melbourne needs a full-time ensemble of actors to rival the Sydney Theatre Company's Actors Company, it has a ready-made in Red Stitch. It's an efficient and highly professional company. It's prolific, too, without sacrificing quality. But money is tight.

Red Stitch fills up its little theatre at the eastern end of St Kilda for weeks at a time. But most of Melbourne still doesn't know what it's missing.

The company's latest venture -- called Red Stitch Writers -- is to develop new plays. (Local plays haven't been much of a priority for Red Stitch, to date.)

This one, Red Sky Morning, is the product of a year of readings, workshops and rewrites. And it shows. It hits the stage sprinting. It's fully formed, impressively set and finely tuned.

It's a modest yarn about a day in the life of a family: store manager father, boozy mother and shy teen daughter. They're loving, but they're deeply and tragically bottled up. Heartbreakingly inarticulate.

What they can't say to one another they think aloud to us: their idle thoughts, their secrets, their fears, their black dog depressions... Sometimes all three chatter at once. (The script is written in columns.) So, the director has to conduct the play like a score for three voices.

Sam Strong (who directed Shedding, brilliantly, at La Mama earlier this year[2008]) does a fine job keeping it all comprehensible. But, all due respect to Strong, with actors of the calibre of David Whiteley, Sarah Sutherland and Erin Dewar, a drover's dog could have steered this one home. All three are chameleons. And all three are at their brilliant best.

The combination of lighting (Danny Pettingill) and set (Peter Mumford) is another highlight.

Red Sky Morning by Tom Holloway. Directed by Sam Strong. Designed by Peter Mumford. Lighting by Danny Pettingill. A Red Stitch Actors Theatre production. At the Fairfax Studio, the Arts Centre, Melbourne, until June 13.

This review was published in the September 15 2008 edition of the Herald Sun.

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Anonymous naive theatre theatre said...

Any chance that you could regularly publish your Herald Sun reviews here shortly after they appear? It would be a public service for those of us who can't afford to pay daily for the reams of wisdom contained on the pages of that newspaper:-)

12:15 PM  

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