Maybe it's no artistic coincidence that Adelaide, the City of Churches, is the location for the Australian premiere of a play that devastates innocence and imagination. For theatre often carries with it a reputation for exposing the other, and this play does so in spades.
The much acclaimed 1991 cult film of the same name [starring Alan Rickman and Madeleine Stowe] by first time U.S. A. writer and director, Radha Bharadwaj, has made its transition to the stage in what one would expect to be an even greater confrontation of the senses and political propriety.
A two hander dealing with the inquisition of a children's book author, the narrative provides an uncomfortable sense of just how easily innocence and imagination can be skewed. While defending the sedition charge arising from the anarchistic nature of her fictional characters, The Author, in turn, becomes entrapped in a nightmare of her own creation.
Produced by Growling Grin Productions, the first time South Australian theatre director and co=producer, Olivia Jane Parker has taken on the challenge of this psychological thriller with a bold interpretation that includes a significant multimedia component to appeal to a contemporary audience and provide colour and texture to the intensity of the black and white setting.
Playing five shows only at The Bakehouse Theatre 255 Angas St Adelaide, from Wednesday November 27 to November 30, the small 88 seat theatre is an ideal playing space in which to indulge, not only the frailties of the human mind, but the dynamics of power in the oppressor/oppressed binary in the search for truth.
Both the roles of The Interrogator and The Author are incredibly meaty. Co-producer and The Interrogator, Benjamin Orchard, initially discovered the existence of the play and through a curious alignment of events also discovered Parker’s interest in the work and encouraged her to take up the directorial reigns to realize its theatrical potential. The Interrogator goes through a range of Stasiland-type guises that treacherously undermine trust, decency, privacy, and many other values by which human beings survive and flourish.
Yet all the while there is an Alice in Wonderland component to the story, which Parker believes is
manifested to full effect by first time actress, Melissa Reyner, who is ‘perfect for the part, and while she is petit with a softness and quality that feels just right, she is very daring and definitely up for it.’
Melissa Rayner and Benjamin Orchard as The Author and The Interrogator in Growling Grin’s production of CLOSET LAND.
As well as having her dream cast, Parker is ecstatic about the technical crew she has assembled. Cinematographers, Daniel Vink and Andrew Shanks; Artists, Heather Mill and Jan Burns; Sound and Photography, Lucie Bauer; Lighting Design, Stephen Dean; and Set design/construction by Greg Spence, Sharree Spence and Mel Rayner have all developed the work over a 6 month period with grants from several sources, including Pozible.
With kind and encouraging words from the playwright Rhada Bharadwaj: ‘while many people continue to discover my film and write to me about the impact it has made in their lives, some get my work so completely it’s uncanny. Olivia and Benjamin are of this ilk. And their production has special value for me ’ … it seems that this production has been born under a very auspicious star.
Closet Land is such an audacious work I highly encourage everyone in Adelaide to seek it out. It is not everyday that a theatre piece holds such potential to shock. The season runs from Wed-Sat 27-30 Nov at 8pm with a 2pm matinee on Sat 30 Nov.
Bookings on-line at www.bakehouseteatre.com