Cut Snake is a devised piece by three actors, a couple of writers and a very talented director. It is very much aimed at the young theatregoer and the teenage-student audience on opening night certainly lapped it up.
It is a romp of ideas exploring themes such as loss, fate and fantasy. Its message is that life, with all its hopes and pitfalls, should be embraced. The overarching message is that the ordinary and extraordinary are all part of life and this is to be celebrated.
The cast does celebrate through quick change of characters, immense skill in physical movement and bucket loads of camp humour. The play had its genesis about three years ago when director Paige Rattray assembled these same three actors to start improvising moments in their life stories. The writers, Dan Giovannoni and Amelia Evans, sat in the rehearsal room over a period of a few days and then came back to the cast after two weeks of beavering away at writing up something performable. The play has been performed intermittently ever since and this was performance number 112. This welcome return at Theatre works will be a success, particularly because it finds itself on the VCE Drama list of productions for 2015.
The basic narrative is about Jumper (Kevin Keirnan-Molloy), a 19-year-old who goes overseas on a Contiki tour to find himself but, instead, after partying hard in bars across the Continent, dies in a bus crash. His best friends Kiki Coriander (Catherine Davies) and Bob (Julia Billington) must learn how to go on without him and each weave a narrative on who they are and what their life journey has been so far and how much they love their Jumper. Narratives to do with time travel, Jesus and a friendly snake amongst others are performed with gusto.
The performance space is framed by hanging sheets and bits and bobs which represent the cubby house, the world of fantasy and fun. Using masks, puppets, direct address, mime, quick character transformation and dance, the three actors show off their skills. It is like a chocolate box of theatre craft. Overall, it is the skill in their movements which is the play’s highlight. All three performers are heavily trained in movement and this is completely evident. They adroitly use their bodies to express things when words are perhaps not able. A particular recurring action saw Keirnan-Molly standing with legs apart balancing both Davies and Billington as they both wrapped themselves around his strong physique. This action symbolized the bus crash, and it was very effective. It is raw theatre when such action is bravely used to evoke such tricky ideas on stage. The performers also draw upon a lot of the Japanese tradition of theatre, namely Noh Theatre.
This type of theatre is busy and crazy. It really is a joy to travel into the imaginations of the director, the writers and the performers. Their attempt at engaging their young audience in such a fast and furious and extremely skillful way is to be commended.