Review - Sven Swenson’s Tiptoe
Photos:Cameron Clark as Archie Cutler,James Trigg as Angus Drummond and Sam Ryan as Seth McClusky.
Cameron Clark with Caitlin Hill as Justine Cutler.
By Sven Swenson
Presented by Brisbane Powerhouse in partnership with Pentimento Productions
Season June 18-20 at 7 pm. Running time: 2 hr 45 mins — includes interval. Bookings: www.brisbanepowerhouse.org
If themes of gay oppression, rape, war, abortion, and betrayal bother you, you’ll miss out on seeing this intriguing psychological thriller from Brisbane playwright Sven Swenson.
Tiptoe is a story with many twists – all of which you won’t likely see coming. And if you think theatre can’t bring you to the edge of your seat, this suspense-ridden plot will change your mind.
The three-act-play (yes it’s three, don’t leave after the second like many did thinking it was over red rover), depicts two time frames simultaneously.
Having not read the preview, this wasn’t entirely clear to begin with. And there were some other confusions at the start in terms of the relationship between characters. But quickly the story moved into second gear and I was engrossed.
On New Year’s Eve, 1918, Angus Drummond and Seth McClusky, two recently returned soldiers, sneak away to a broken down shed to tend to their home-made still. They have skipped Spanish Flu quarantine and invite over some extra company for an evening that starts out more innocently than it ends.
Six weeks later, on Valentine’s Day, the notorious Binny Broadfoot has had a day of ill-omens.
A knock on the door signals Binny’s premonition of unexpected company – Justine Cutler.
Sarah McLeod as Binny is as crass as they come and brilliantly embraces the rough Australian-owned traits. Immediately the audience is forced to question why she has become the hard woman she is, which is made clearer as she is visited frequently by the ghost of Snow Cutler, played by Michael Deed.
Caitlin Hill as Justine Cutler portrayed the mature 16-year-old well, a persistent presence in Binny’s home.
Forbidden lovers Drummond and McClusky are played by James Trigg and Sam Ryan respectively. The pair are convincing in their struggle having returned from the perils of war while also battling with their romance.
Cameron Clark as Archie Cutler is the biggest surprise of all, as his character transforms throughout the tale.
Gene Von Banyard strips bare to play the role of Jurgi Girdler, a “man haunted by the tragedies of his past and the collective horrors of war. With a ghoulish lope he haunts the surrounding landscape. Jurgi Girdler shuns the light,” as described by Banyard himself.
The set effectively set up two backdrops to play alongside one another and along with costumes, took you back to the early 1900s.