REVIEW: Fracture | The Blue Room | New Ghosts
The Blue Room Theatre
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
To The Blue Room’s credit, emerging playwrights in Perth have a forum to present their new ideas with the support of experienced theatre-makers and producers. Every season brings a range of original works, and many of the shows produced so far this year have been penned by first-time writers. This must be an emotionally erratic experience full of anxieties as well as intense pride and joy for first-time playwrights. But working under The Blue Room’s umbrella must afford new writers certain comforts to quell the emotional tides, allowing them space to learn and grow as their work comes to life.
Fracture is one such new work that has sprung to life under the Blue Room’s creative greenhouse. Written by WAAPA Performing Arts student Lucy Clements, who has hitherto trod an actor’s path, has now taken the road less traveled by. She’s put on a playwright’s boots to cover the considerably more weedy terrain, and I think she’s off to a good start.
EDIT: The full review used to be on X-Press Magazine here.
HERE IS THE REST OF THE REVIEW:
Fracture tells the story of a man (Paul Grabovac) who lives with two housemates, a male (James Marzec) and a female (Mikala Westall), who is nightly disturbed by dreams of an incident in his past. We learn the nature of this incident when his abandoned fiancee (Salacia Briggs) comes to bring him home. Conflict arises when he is forced to face his past and consider his future.
Clements’ piece pays careful mind to dramatic structure, and she doesn’t overcomplicate events by writing in extraneous scenes; each moment is a means to the narrative end. Her premise is simple, her characters are believable, and her dialogue is suitable, with an even mix of levity and gravity. She’s obviously got a handle on the foundations of drama, and this is certainly an ideal starting point for a young writer. With further development, there will no doubt be opportunities for her to further flesh out her characters and amplify the internal conflict through more nuanced dialogue and dynamic pace.
Director Joe Lui puts the gifted Mikala Westall (also a first-time playwright through The Blue Room’s Summer Nights season earlier this year with her piece Moving On Inc.) in the mix with the endearing and versatile Paul Grabovac as the two lead characters, and they have a strong bond on scene. The somewhat more presentational James Marzec has a habit of indicating to the audience that he’s being funny, but he may have been directed to do so as part of the set-up to the show’s climax. I won’t give away any spoilers, but there are clues embedded along the way that point towards the show’s central premise, which isn’t revealed officially until late in the show.
The bold set design concept by Patrick Howe worked okay from my vantage point, but I fear that there may be sections where the audience is at a disadvantage, as their view may have been too side-on. I have to admit that I would have preferred to see the actor’s full bodies right down to their feet, rather than having been blocked by a surrounding low-height wall. Perhaps the team was aiming for a cinematic framing for the action? In any case, it felt like an unnecessary obstruction and severed the space between audience and players.
Fracture has a short one-week season, which is the perfect space for a freshly-sprouted work.