There has been much buzz around Invisible Circus – a festival of female theatre artists in Sydney involving three full productions of new works as well as play readings and open rehearsals. If Tiny Remarkable Bramble is anything to go by then it answers the recent question of “Where are the women in theatre?” with a firm and confident “Here we are.” This production is a bright shining example of women who have been, and continue to, work in theatre and can create in a non-tokenistic way.
Tiny Remarkable Bramble is part children’s story and part modern fable about finding joy in the littlest of moments; a quirky, funny one act play. After a bit of convincing we follow mainstay Alice into the world of kooky characters and jibberish filled conversations. In a modern twist on a Spike Milligan-esque radio play it takes a little while to tune into the rhythms of the world, but once you do the rewards are there to be enjoyed. This is Australian Theatre of the Absurd, reflective of Eugene Ionesco in its sense of humour and style.
The stage space is reminiscent of Downstairs Belvoir in it’s intimacy and Tessa Dorman’s design is a magical nod to Where the Wild Things Are. Director Cathy Hunt has gathered a stellar cast for this ensemble production.
Geraldine Viswanathan plays the role of Alice with understated confidence, Catherine Terracini is joyous and persuasive as her friend Sonny, convincing her (and us) to go and have some fun with the group one last time. We then meet the group of kooky characters beginning with Thomas Campbell playing the Brigadier with the conviction and superb timing of a Gilbert & Sullivan character in fantasy land. Lucy Suze Taylor brings the va va voom as saucy lush Wino with some poignant moments towards the end. Michael Whalley is muppet beaker-esque as science geek Doug with his straight man surprise at the feelings of others. Contessa Treffone is pure delight and innocence as bubble wrapped character Pipkin, seeking to explore love and the beauty of the same world that Alice has become weary with.
Tuckwell seems to put a lot of herself in the play in a similar way to Lally Katz, the only other modern female theatre absurdist who immediately comes to mind. The uniquely spirited world of Tiny Remarkable Bramble is juxtaposed with the droll skepticism of Alice’s viewpoint and the patient resolve of Sonny, which keeps the work grounded and accessible.
This is a story of having the courage to push past your self-limitations, finding your way in the world, being positive, altering your mind, listening to your heart, enjoying your friends and falling in love.
If an hour or so of fluff and nonsense with a heart of gold appeals then do get down to KXT Bakehouse and soak up some Invisible Circus.
Fiona Hallenan-Barker : Talking Arts
Fiona is a director, programmer, producer, dramaturg and general theatre advocate. A graduate of both Theatre Nepean and VCA Directing she has worked in artistic programming at Sydney Opera House and Merrigong Theatre Company
Invisible Circus is a season of plays, performances and provocation. Directors Priscilla Jackman, Kate Gaul, Cathy Hunt and Suzanne Millar join forces to bring new work by women to the Sydney stage.