A Normal Child Review by Tisara Pathiranage
It is hard to avert your attention from A Normal Child, by Disability Slapstick Plan and Ridiculusmus. This play illustrates the struggles of persons with disabilities in a variety of settings; from the film industry, media portrayals, the community, and their own families. A punchy script is delivered by a cast of four Melbourne artists with different physical abilities; Betty Bobbitt, Trevor Dunn, Jess Kapuscinski-Evans and Eva Sifis. A Normal Child is a play, in which these characters are rehearsing for a performance of a play, under the critical eye of a newly appointed Director. Yes, it is a play within a play. If you can follow that much, you will not be impervious to the deliberately satirical and at times, deeply poignant, delivery of this cleverly manufactured script.
A Normal Child does not force any perspectives of it’s own upon the audience, leaving the audience questioning their own experiences and pre-conceptions of disability in film and daily life. The play, through a multi-layered and segmented timeline, very acutely portrays the opportunities given to persons with disabilities and their families. The openness of all the actors sharing their experiences with disabilities was an emotive touch. However, uncommon to the mainstream media industry, their personal stories were never the focal point of this narrative.
Attention to costuming, sound and lighting was exceptional, with an exceedingly interesting dramatic change of scene in the final stages of the play. The interactions between the obviously villainous Director (Brian Lipson) and Jess Kapuscinski-Evans will have your skin crawling at times, while also being deeply satisfying to watch at other points. This performance is inclusive of persons with hearing difficulties, with Auslan interpretation throughout the duration of the play. For those of us in the audience with obvious or not so obvious disabilities, Disability Slapstick offers a fresh perspective on many of the social barriers people with disabilities frequently come to terms with and the progress to be made towards equality.
stage management: 4/5
Images: Sarah Walker