Delilah, presented by Left of Centre Theatre Company, takes us into the world of Samson and Delilah. This production is very loosely based on the biblical story, in that the two main characters are named after them and Samson has strength. The similarities stop there as this tale is brought into a modern story of domestic violence and follows Samson’s ability to snap at any moment and Delilah’s desire to keep the relationship together. Certainly a poignant topic as nearly one Australian woman died every week in 2017 due to domestic violence and prior to that the statistics were even more horrifying. This story gives an insight into a world and begs the question, why aren’t we doing more as a society to prevent this?
The staging of Delilah was really interesting. In a space that doesn’t give much room to play, many of the scenes were performed in a non-naturalistic way. The most memorable one is Delilah, played by Sass Pinci, having to choose between Samson (Francesca O’Donnell) and her family, represented by her brother Dominic (Laura McAloney). Delilah was physically held back by her brother as she argued with Samson and had to make her choice, the moment she chose to stay with Samson, Dominic let go. I wish this non-naturalistic style had been followed through by director Romi Kupfer but unfortunately some of the scenes were performed in a naturalistic way and it lacked consistency. I feel the play would have been more interesting if this idea of creating powerful tableaus was used in every scene.
Unfortunately, the biggest issue with this piece was the lack of chemistry between the two main characters. Pinci chose to underplay Delilah and seemed almost bored for most of the show. Pinci’s performance lacked the fight necessary for the audience to believe her character was being torn so viciously between her love for Samson and her fear of him. Both Pinci and O’Donnell’s performances, lacked an underlying subtext to make their situation believable. I fear that not enough time was given in the rehearsal room to discuss exactly what was going on with both of these characters and not enough research was done on people in this situation. If it was, then not enough time was given to help both actors discover how to portray these discoveries. As a result, scenes between the two felt very monotonous and mundane, at times it felt like either they were forgetting their lines or not picking up their cues which also added to the slow pace that should have felt dangerous at every moment. I’m not sure if casting a male in Samson’s role would have helped the dynamic, but O’Donnell wasn’t strong enough to bring that constant fear to the situation.
In contrast to O’Donnell’s performance, McAloney as Delilah’s brother Dominic was very strong in the male role. I would have liked to have seen more of McAloney’s work as she had a stronger grasp on her character and more of a fight and concern for her sister. McAloney successfully conveyed the stakes for her character which immediately drew the audience in. These scenes were a breath of fresh air however there weren’t enough of them. For most of the show, McAloney was an onlooker which I quite enjoyed and it added an extra element to the non-naturalistic scenes.
The soundscape was excellent and definitely gave the edge that the script demands. Its use during scenes was spot on and between scenes was also interesting and certainly one of the better parts of the show. It was unfortunate that the lighting was playing havoc with the sound system and the entire show was drowned in an electrical buzz.
This is an extremely serious topic and I commend Left of Centre Theatre Company in their courage to bring it to the stage. Unfortunately, the show as a whole lacked enough fight and visual interest throughout to hold many of the audience member’s attention. Delilah is definitely a thought provoking piece of writing.
For more information on domestic violence and advice, please visit http://www.dvrcv.org.au