Saturday, 13 February 2010

That Face at the Belvoir Theatre

Last night I went to see That Face at the Belvoir Theatre in Surry Hills. Much like the last play I saw at the Fitzroy Theatre, That Face is a small cast, gritty and intense emotional roller coaster. It is the debut play written by Polly Stenham an English playwright who is only 22 (and was 19 when she wrote the play)!

The play revolves around a dysfunctional family consisting of the mother Martha, who's in a downward spiral of depression, drinking and prescription drugs. Her son Henry who dropped out of school to try and look after his mother, sister Mia who's in the process of getting herself expelled from boarding school and the re-married father who rushes back from Hong Kong.

The play started a little slowly and I wondered if we were in for a painful evening, but got into it's stride pretty quickly. It took a while to work out the relationships between the main characters. The dynamic between Martha and her son Henry is particularly strange, at one point I thought the relationship might be incestuous. However, you were soon part of the emotional rollercoaster, perhaps not gripped, but definitely intrigued.

My favourite character of the evening was Henry, played by Kenji Fitzgerald. I thought it looked about 17/18yrs old (but thanks to the internet have just discovered he is 22). For someone so young (still comparatively young) he displayed and enormous range of powerful and believable emotions.

The set was very sparse, with the main prop being a double bed. It was a perfectly staged mess, that got ever more destroyed throughout the course of the show as shredded clothes and sketch books get thrown around. How the back stage crew manage to re-produce it every evening the mind only boggles.

When the play was first shown in England it was apparently divided into two acts. However, last night there was no interval which I think was probably a good thing. I am not sure the play could have recovered from a break in the intensity.

I noticed three theatre critics sitting in the crowd taking notes. I'm going to keep an eye out for their reviews in the weekend papers and as I'd like to know how their thoughts correspond to mine.

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