What’s the buzz?
The Wasp, that’s what! As part of Sydney’s Fringe Festival, Golden Jam Productions brings a gripping psychological thriller to Erskineville’s Town Hall.
It’s hard to describe what’s best about this intense and chilling theatre encounter … Is it the sublime writing by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm who seamlessly navigates the narrative of the two protagonists? The characters are 100% defined by the choice of language she’s crafted around the plot which has unending twists, literally until the house lights come on.
Is it the fact that in the hands of Director Sean O’Riordan the audience are swept in to his rally of staging? Whether by design or otherwise, the space at the Erskineville Town Hall makes for exciting positioning that O’Riordan has chosen for the cast so the audience are never without the pivotal need to breathe in the increasing toxic oxygen from the two characters.
Or is it the exceptional portrayal of two penetratingly different but somehow oh-so similar characters, played with depth and resolve, which brings the former two elements to a crescendo? I believe the performance by Natalie Freeman (above left) who plays Heather and Nicola James (above right) who plays Carla are the culmination of the above and are flawless in their performance. It’s like Freeman and James were born to play these roles and not for one second are they out of step with their character. At no time, even given the potentially disturbing closeness of the audience, did the characterisation or investment of these talented actors break; not a flinch out of character and when you’re stepping over audience member’s feet – that’s some mean feat!
As if to prove my point, there is one scene in the second act where Heather and Carla are as far away from each other as possible and that exchange is more claustrophobic than if they were breathing down your own neck. I literally felt that if I were to put my hand in the space between them I’d be electrocuted!
This play is almost too delicious to review because giving anything away would be a crime! What I can tell you is Heather and Carla are reunited after 20 years via Facebook and agree to meet for a cup of tea. The next 80 minutes are spent unraveling these two women’s lives over 3 acts and the trauma and impact of school yard bullying. Heather, bullied by Carla, has carried the burden of schoolyard harassment in to her adulthood which looks perfect; perfect home, perfect husband, perfect London high flying career … but remains childless. Carla on the other hand has not elevated her world in any real way since school. She’s carrying her fifth child, married to a bum and in financial ruin. Heather makes Carla a cash offer too good to refuse but just when you think you have this worked out, boom, another twist!
I don’t even want to tell you the reason the play is called The Wasp because that alone informs so much of why these protagonists are playing off each other at this moment in time. Suffice to say, it holds a chilling reinforcement as to why these two women are where they are and how the legacy of events 20 years ago are informing what is taking place in front of your very eyes.
This is theatre that should be seen widely and it left me thinking how easy mere mortals are to manipulate but if you think you see the ending coming; I’ll bet you’re wrong!
Karren Gail – Theatre Now & Talking Arts
8:30pm 22, 23, 24 September
Main Hall, Erskineville Town Hall
104 Erskineville Road, Erskineville
Concession $18 (plus service fee)