Below right: Madison Kennedy-Tucker and Heidi Manchè. Right: Wayne Bassett.
Photos by Richard Barakat.
Red Sky Morning
By Tom Holloway
Directed by Beth Child
Room to Play Production
Taylor King Gallery
Season: March 29-April 8. Duration 70 minutes with no interval. Bookings: www.roomtoplay.com.au
Red Sky Morning is a haunting 70 minutes of strong and difficult to perform theatre that was perfectly captured by the shoestring independent company Room to Play.
It was perfectly cast and finely directed by Beth Child.
It is set in a rural town somewhere in Australia with a 24-hour look at what seems to be a very traditional family. But each has problems that would be rarely seen in the one household.
Three people occupy the stage: Man, the husband who runs a hardware shop and is in a despairing depressive state, Woman, the alcoholic mother and Girl, the seething, rebellious teenage daughter who has a crush on her teacher. For the length the play they talk; they confess innermost thoughts, fears, and dreams and each is unsuccessfully trying to reach put for comfort. Yet not once does one converse with the other. They exist in their own little worlds
The magic of the show though is the text and the delivery.
The characters speak monologues, but not just in solo form, often all three talk at once, extolling virtue and vices. At first this is confusing, but it soon falls into place when the mind catches up with the rhythm. It is like listening to a string trio, with ‘cello, violin and viola playing motifs with melody lines, harmonies and counterpoint.
You begin to hear this rhythm and instantly know who is important at the time, who to concentrate on while the other words wash over. The three actors, Wayne Bassett (Man) Heidi Manchè (Woman) and Madison Kennedy-Tucker (Girl) mastered the speech patterns brilliantly and pulled the audience into their lives.
Man we see preparing for work and in his shop, Girl we see flopped in an armchair at home and at school while Woman spends her time in bed or out drinking cans of beer. The play has a funny and yet heart-tearing opening.
Woman is in bed fantasising about sex and lets loose a huge fart. Man is just coming to bed, but the smell puts him off, but eventually he makes it to the bedroom where his wife is asleep, after yearning for him. He tells us he touches her and she shrugs him off, so he turns over and goes to sleep. She tells us she felt the touch and it jerked her awake and she wanted more, but was disappointed when she thought the touch was involuntary.
These insecurities and disappointments dog the trio and they yearn for closeness and yet grow further apart. It is sometimes harrowing especially when Man drops into suicidal thoughts and his daughter sees his condition.
But even after this as the family sits down to a steak dinner the silence was deafening and thundered with unsaid thoughts. However, the play does end with a faint ray of hope as each at least begins to think about the others.
It is a powerful piece of theatre. It’s not easy listening, but well worth watching.
One word of advice, though,. If you do go to the show, take a cushion for the back, because the makeshift theatre in an artist’s studio does not have chairs built for comfort.