STRONG ROLES FOR WOMEN
Auckland Fringe 2013|
Written by Jess Sayer
Directed by Cameron Rhodes
presented by Junket Theatre
at The Basement, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland
From 20 Feb 2013 to 23 Feb 2013
Reviewed by Heidi North-Bailey, 21 Feb 2013
It's a tough concept to pull off: three characters confined to a physical space the size of an elevator, in a theatre with seating on three sides. What this means in practice is not much room for physicality and a lot of blocking.
At its premiere, while the first part of the play did lag slightly, yet felt a little forcibly hyped (much lying down and standing up was involved) to make up for the confined space, by the middle the cast had relaxed, the tension had ramped up and I was hooked into their world.
Harper (Jess Sayer) and Samantha (Lauren Gibson) are best friends, who are stuck in an elevator with Samantha's mother Bridget (Michelle Hine). The women all have secrets, which are slowly revealed.
Jess Sayer, under the tutorage of Stuart Hoar, has written a strong script full of witty one liners, which drew many laughs from the packed opening night crowd (a game of I spy in a broken elevator anyone?) and enough punches to give each actor a decent character arc to sink their teeth into, and they all approach their roles with relish.
On the most part, the cast carry the play well. Any lingering doubts I have regarding the depth of the relationship between Bridget and Harper are assuaged by Michelle's Hine's excellent speech towards the end of the piece. And I love the script's bold last line. Excellent stroke.
It's a mild grumble, but on a set that is already difficult to see people clearly, Lauren Gibson's hair falling in her face did frustrate me. And I do wonder about the wisdom of Jess Sayer's costume of sheer tights and a short skirt, considering so much of the action involves her sitting on the floor with her legs up, which seems unnecessarily awkward for the people in the front row.
On the whole Elevator achieves its intentions, to showcase three strong roles for women, and the audience was right there with them in their claustrophobia as we sat in the tightly packed theatre on a hot Auckland night.
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