The late American feminist and scholar Marilyn French once described love as “the taking over of a rational and lucid mind by delusion and self-destruction. You lose yourself, you have no power over yourself, you can’t even think straight.”
Australian writer, director and performer Nick Coyle is the author of The Feather in the Web, a new work currently having its world premiere in a production directed by former Sydney Theatre Company Resident Director, Ben Winspear, at Griffin’s SBW Stables Theatre. It’s a piece that wholeheartedly concurs with French’s views.
Coyle’s text tells the story of Kimberly (Claire Lovering), an eccentric girl in her late teens who feels no pressure to behave in a manner that adheres to societal expectations (more accurately, she appears to have little impulse control.) That changes when she meet Miles (Gareth Davies), a conceited 28-year-old working in brand development. At the time of their meeting, he’s engaged to Lily (Michelle Lim Davidson), but Kimberly soon finds herself falling in love with and in in pursuit of him.
Suddenly, Kimberly is willing to do whatever Miles asks, in order to win his love. She agrees to his request that she escort Lily (at that point, a stranger to her) on her work’s team-building weekend and then to become her good friend. As Kimberly falls deeper for Miles, she becomes increasingly further removed from the person to whom we are introduced at the outset. She demonstrates a total willingness to subjugate every aspect of herself in any which way that will appease Miles. So, it ultimately seems that the only way in which Kimberly can reclaim her identity is by falling out of love.
Coyle’s quirky and immensely funny text speaks to the crazy things people do when they’re in love. With smart direction by Winspear and terrific sound and music choices by Steve Toulmin, this is a highly unusual but entertaining piece.
Anchoring this production, Lovering delivers an excellent performance as the oddball teen without a filter, injecting wonderful energy into her portrayal. Between them, Lovering’s three co-stars take on 18 roles over 110 minutes. Davies is incredibly funny not just as the marketing jerk for whom Kimberly falls, but also as a make-up counter worker in a scene that, perhaps better than any other, demonstrates how far she is willing to deviate in her public behaviour from convention. Davidson is wonderful as the endearing but naïve Lily, while Tina Bursill showcases her exceptional comedic timing in several guises, but chiefly as Miles’ mother, Regina.
As for the design aspects, Sophie Fletcher’s sets and costumes nicely cohere with the often-cartoonish feel of the production and, particularly paired with Toulmin’s soundscape, Trent Suidgeest uses lights to good effect.
Winspear’s production of The Feather in the Web makes for an imaginative and enjoyable theatrical experience. While grim in its view on love’s true toll, it amusingly reminds us that beyond love, there is life!
THE FEATHER IN THE WEB – SEASON DETAILS
Dates: Playing now until 17 November, 2018
Times: Monday – Friday 7pm; Saturday 2pm & 7pm; Wednesday 14 November 2pm & 7pm; Captioned Performance Tuesday 6 November 7pm
Venue: SBW Stables Theatre (10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross)
Bookings: (02) 9361 3817 or griffintheatre.com.au