What an intense and searing production this is. It is a searching interrogation of a range of often unexpected elements of its explicit central subject, love. Playwright Patricia Cornelius has set this unusual love triangle entirely in the realm of contemporary Australian disadvantage, although the themes and setting are universal.
The love we see here is complex and gritty and Beatrice Blackwell’s direction of her three person cast pares it back with hard-hitting effect.
Jean Louise Collins is commanding as Tanya who falls totally in love with fellow prisoner, Annie, played to fragile effect by Lilli Cheyne. Once out of gaol, Annie falls for the seedy, unpredictable Lorenzo, played with intensity by Arran Beattie. The complexity develops from there, presented in many distinct, yet related, brief scenes.
All three performers created a highly charged and credible mood on the suitably stark, empty set. In the role of Tanya, Collins showed her continuing growth as an actor of note. She ranged skillfully from being brooding and threatening as Annie’s lover and defender, to a growing degree of self-doubt and vulnerability as all of the relationships are reshaped. Her voice, physicality and, especially, her haunted facial expressions were all honed to the role and its considerable and changing demands.
Cheyne’s interpretation of the far more vulnerable, yet superficially worldly, Annie, was affecting. She showed convincing control and subtlety through a variety of moods. She was especially believable in her moments of anguish in her lowest emotional states, such as when she was rejected by Lorenzo.
Beattie was effective, too, as Lorenzo, although the script afforded him less to work with than the other two. Nonetheless, he completed the play’s action with an energetic and quirky combination of cajoling attraction and menace.
This performance confronted and held the audience. It took us to a world of rejection, drug addiction, prostitution, profanity and crime, and forced us to view that world, at times with compassion, at times with discomfort, all illustrated by three troubled and unsettled souls.
It is well worth seeing and thinking about.
The University of Adelaide Theatre Guild
University of Adelaide – Little Theatre, The Cloisters