When their elderly father is placed in care, four siblings reunite to determine the future of the family property, sell or not sell. Connection to home, childhood, family, life choices and how they impact those around them are skilfully and sincerely explored in this mini family drama.
Collaboration is the essence of any solid theatre piece and New Ghosts offering for FringeWorld is just that. Director Lucy Clements and writer Sam O’Sullivan have combined their obvious talents to produce an absorbing, authentic production.
O’sullivan’s writing is easy to realise, often witty and very natural. The piece relies heavily on transitions, adult to childhood vice versa and the skilful writing delivers that without confusion. There are no lulls in delivery and the quick conversational dialogue complements the authenticity of this family coming together with unspoken things to say. The characters are each robust, intriguing and deserve much more than what this 55 minute production offers them.
Clements direction and staging are very well-conceived, both clear and effective. Simplicity is the key – tape outlining the ‘house space’ where the majority of the real time action takes place. The actors stepping out in flash back to childhood, where they utilise the studio nooks n crannies in hide n seek play, darting around the space to find the ultimate hiding space. The addition of moving boxes symbolising transition but doubling as hiding places or objects to jump off for underwater breath holding games are a lovely touch. The simple but precise atmospheric lighting enhances the effective staging design.
Sound designer Clemence Williams delivers a very thoughtful soundscape, establishing place, time transition and atmosphere at a perfectly discreet level. (I do love a good rain soundscape!) One of the stars of this production.
All four actors give us distinct, unwavering characterisations and age transitions are particularly slick. Rowan Davie is terrific as the annoyingly juvenile, (some may say selfish), Simon – juvenile in childhood as well as in part, adulthood. His decision to travel the world, a diversion from family tensions, is a constant source of sibling dispute. Bishanyia Vincent is a wonderfully strong, resilient Andrea, taking the mother role in place of the mother who was never really there; Michael Abercromby imparts an uneasiness to the character of Mitchell, often brash, gruff and at times forceful. His young Mitchell is particularly good. I did want to know more though about why Mitchell was the child he was and then the adult he became. And finally Whitney Richards, as Claire their father’s caregiver. Richards delivers a beautifully understated performance but I did struggle to fully hear some of Claire’s dialogue, particularly in the group scenes which did become a little too heightened on occasion.
The highlight of this production though has to be the family chemistry. The sibling rivalry and family volatility is completely believable and quite remarkable to get to this level of dynamics when working within the scope of a 55 minute play. This is a true testament to the strength of the writing, precise direction and the collaborative process between performers and creatives.
The Wind in the Underground is highly recommended.
Plays at the Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre until Saturday 3 Feb with a metro performance on Sunday 4th February at the Don Russel Performing Arts Centre, Thornlie
Tickets thru FRINGEWORLD