Reviewed by Ashleigh Ho
My favourite thing about theatre is the incredible way it expresses the social and political issues of our time. Hannie Rayson’s original play, Extinction, is a fine example of this. Rayson raises awareness of the Tiger Quoll, a highly endangered species of animal in Australia. Of course, she does this with a quirky and humorous gist to her writing, which overall made the whole performance uplifting and interesting.
Presented by the Black Swan State Theatre Company, at the State Theatre of Western Australia, Rayson’s Extinction is a play about choices. And how other people affect these choices for what they may believe is the greater good.
Director, Stuart Halusz, supports Rayson’s vision and tremendously brings these characters to life. We are introduced to such intriguing personalities with their own ideas, flaws and passions – all of whom tell their own stories. The overall direction was well done, and I was always kept on the edge of my seat either clutching my sides with laughter or clutching my poor friend next to me during an intimate or intense moment.
A small cast meant that I got to know the characters on a personal level. All four actors portrayed these characters as real life, relatable people. Hannah Day did an excellent job in her interpretation of the passionate woman, Dr Piper Ross, who cared very much for her cause. Matt Dyktynski, playing Harry Jewell, also had a wonderful performance. Dyktynski had the challenge of portraying a sensitive man behind his businessman mask. Andy Dixon, played by Myles Pollard, shook the stage by exposing his vulnerability underneath the strong and capable person he believed himself to be. Sarah McNeil as Heather Dixon-Brown also did an astounding job playing a sensitive, caring woman who only wanted the best for her brother. Overall, all actors did a brilliant job – particularly with the intertwining between humour and serious issues that kept the play moving, and the message strong and clear.
The set design for the play was absolutely phenomenal. It’s simplicity created the atmosphere that helped me heavily involve myself with the performance. The screens at the back were the cream on top, and were an innovative addition to the set. The movement of the set was interesting to watch. However, the movement of props seemed unrehearsed and sloppy. It’s hard to listen to listen to the scene change music when you can hear the clattering of furniture during a blackout. Lights also came up before larger set pieces were in place and this was distracting to watch. Lighting was well done and also set the right atmosphere for the show. The sound and music were also a great addition to the performance.
Extinction is a great innovative play, full of humorous comments that got several laughs from the audience. It is also a play that raises awareness for Australian wildlife, and tackles vital issues within our political, social and personal lives. Performances are until the 4th of October 2015, and it is most certainly a show that you’d hate to miss.
Black Swan State Theatre Company’s production of the World Premiere of Extinction by Hannie Rayson is now playing in the Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of WA until Sunday 4 October.
For more information and tickets: http://www.bsstc.com.au/season-2015/extinction/
Photo Credit: Gary Marsh Photography