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Review - He Dreamed A Train & Eve: tales of reminiscence

Margi Brown Ash, and Travis Ash in Eve. Photo by Stephen Henry

He Dreamed A Train & Eve

Written by Margi Brown Ash and Travis Ash

Directed by Benjamin Knapton and Leah Mercer

Presented by Force of Circumstance and Nest Ensemble in Partnership with Brisbane Powerhouse

Brisbane Powerhouse

New Farm

Season runs until July 16. Bookings:

He Dreamed a Train and Eve, is a double bill presented by Force of Circumstance and Nest Ensemble. Written and performed by Margi Brown Ash, whose accolades stretch far and wide across the globe, these plays are, primarily, about belonging.

That’s at least what Ash herself said upon giving a brief introduction at the beginning of the evening. But I always find that theatre, like any other art, is subjective to what each unique audience member thinks it means.

Indeed, I found that the element about one’s place in the world and where they belong was a core theme of these two polar-opposite pieces however there were a myriad of others, some I was able to identify, some not.

There were themes about grieving, aging, reminiscence, and madness, floating and wending their ways throughout the script. The dialogue for both plays was poetic and sometimes difficult to comprehend, but then that’s the point of going to the theatre. It provides audiences with something to think about.

Margi Brown Ash, and Travis Ash trod the boards in both He Dreamed a Train and Eve, and gave performances that were poignant, sometimes moving and entirely natural, despite the somewhat unnatural happenings that were going on within each play.

I especially appreciated the different techniques that were played around with, particularly the use of light and projections to help further the stories. The use of pyrotechnics was novel as well, providing a bit of delightful unease.

He Dreamed a Train followed the story of a woman whose brother was sick and dying and in her grief she reminisces about his life, viewing in her mind’s eye a younger, more care-free man. Eve, a darker tale, followed a woman whose aspirations to be a successful writer seem to become her undoing. This is also a tale of reminiscence and takes the audience into dimly lit places full of mournful despair.

Time skips were used in both productions, moving forward from past to present at lighting pace, creating tight-knit pieces of prose that had an air of the ephemeral and a preciousness in turn.

With an ambience similar to Theatre of the Absurd or a surrealist novel, this double bill found ways to make the audience engage, with laughter peppering the air at times and sombre, heavy silences filling the room at others.

Despite the fact that this pair of plays seemed simple and fuss-free, its design was quite complex; the sets for both plays were very carefully designed and each detail filled their space accordingly, bolstering the atmosphere of each play and rendering a richness that complimented them well.

And so while I won’t say these productions didn’t push boundaries, they were thought-provoking and afforded a unique experience that I haven’t had at the theatre in some time.

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