By Karren Gail
“It’s an all-female psychological thriller which doesn’t really exist; it’s such a male heavy genre and if there is a female character, they’re often the victim, not usually the predator” says Nicola James, Founder of Golden Jam. Ok, so now you have my attention …!
We’ve all been to school and had our ‘moments’; some good, some bad and some downright ugly but we grow up and move on, right? Not always. Sometimes the playground antics and those experiences are held deeply – very deeply. In Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s ‘The Wasp’, we’ll find out how far people will go to reconcile their childhood encounters.
Hot off the London stage and hitting the Sydney Fridge Festival from 20-24th September, The Wasp’ is in town for a short run so get in quick! Nicola James also plays the role of Carla and explains the intrigue of the plot. “This is all about bully vs victim from a rough school in London. We meet the characters as adults and we see who the two of them have become since their roles in the school yard and how much or how little that’s changed.”
A two-handed performance, the play is set over a cup of tea 20 years after the school yard days are over. Carla’, (the school bully) now lives a life of poverty, and ‘Heather’, played by Natalie Freeman (the school victim) now has all the trappings of success. “Carla has been stuck in the world she grew up in and Heather’s done her best to make good but she’s still holding on to the pain from her experiences of the school yard” says Nicola.
So why do two people with nothing in common, other than a school yard bully v victim relationship come together? Nicola explains. “Heather has tracked Carla down via Facebook and organised a meeting and it’s a really beautifully awkward scene. Carla is your rough girl from the streets who is now a woman but hasn’t grown out of her persona she built for herself when she was young and that comes right up against Heather who is the typical high street London corporate … she’s got the getup, she’s got the beautiful house and she’s got the husband but just because you’ve got the things on paper doesn’t mean your life is peachy!”
So here we have two totally different women, with totally different pathways in life who experienced totally different school experiences … why are they here now? “Heather has a proposition for Carla. She comes to this meeting with a bag of cash and a job for Carla, and that’s about as much as I can give away” says Nicola. Keeping true to the suspense of the piece, Nicola will not be drawn on the outcome but says “their past comes up a lot and is the driving force of the interaction and it’s a ‘setting straight’ of the past.”
Directed by Sean O’Riordan, and with set and costume design by Angela Nieweglowski and lighting design by Daniel Barber, Nicola says; “This show will look pretty sharp and it will be a visual feast as well as a psychological feast. This is a cloak and dagger and the third act comes out of the sky; the audience walk out saying ‘what the heck just happened?’ so it gets you until the last moment and even then you have no idea where it’s going to go.”
So how are men going to relate to this play? “I think the attraction for men is that it’s a story that just doesn’t get told.” I couldn’t help myself but to ask; do you think men might get scared when they see what goes on in women’s heads? [Raucous laughter] “In these particular women’s heads, possibly!”
A good psychological thriller needs to hold the whole way so … does Nicola think anyone in the audience will be able to pick the ending? “Ah ha, this is why I can’t wait for the foyer conversations. I’d be very interested to talk to someone who saw the ending coming … it’s pretty out there.
Just like a car crash you can’t stop looking at, you’re guaranteed to not see this coming but it will give you the ultimate watercooler moment.
When: 8:30pm, 20th to 24th September
Duration: 80 minutes
Venue: Main Hall, Erskineville Town Hall, 104 Erskineville Road, Erskineville NSW 2043
Tickets: Adult $25, Concession $18 (plus service fee)