Bonechina Staircase (reviews)
From Urban Press
Revision as of 23:02, 25 January 2011 by Urbanvintner
Meteor Theatre, Hamilton 2003
Written and Directed by David Foote.
David Foote’s new play, Bone-China Staircase, is both clever and disturbing. Touching, as it does upon the abduction of a child (Anwen) by an “uncle” figure (a ranting cranky Mark Houlahan) the play has the audience holding its collective breath waiting for nasty business to occur, but the mostly innocent actions of the play mark deeper nastiness; control and imposition, mind games, fantasy turned bad, imagination vomiting itself up – as in one of Uncle's particularly vivid speeches. What if, this play seems to say, a child is abducted, imprisoned in a basement and never allowed to climb the Bone-china staircase out of this cell? A common horror story. But what if the child grows into a rebellious teenager with a head full of alter-egos? Does the bone-china staircase lead to rescue, after all? Foote provides both a complication and a resolution in having two Anwens, played with equal charm and conviction by Aimie Cronin and Kellie Burke. Burke and Glen MacLeod also play Anwen’s tawdry parents and her imaginary friends, an Italian speaking white-rabbit, a rollicking but distracted Niskie King and the soothsaying Black Virgin; wonderful characters with all the malevolence of any nineteenth century children’s story. Technically the production is very sound although the voiced narrative is often unclear because of the deliberate distortions and the stage needs to seem more confined.Gail Pittaway, The Waikato Times, 20-09-2003
Now the storylines revolves around the warped perceptions and nursery-rhyme fantasies of adolescent girl Anwen Duffy, inadvertently kidnapped from a shopping centre aged 3. Her captor Reynard, a mentally unbalanced janitor, has kept her completely isolated from reality, ensconced in the insular world of her own imagination. Anwen’s primary input is from the books she’s given to read, and consequently fairy-tale personalities from these become her “companions”. It’s thoroughly laden with nightmarish style symbols, of course. Big bad wolves and witches. Mummy and daddy mysteriously vanish. Don’t venture up the bone-china staircase or something nasty’ll kill yo ass. Occasionally felt a little laboured – a coupla scenes that possibly didn’t need to be there? – but overall cleverly structured, building to a climax and all-is-revealed. Strong performances all round kept the plot engaging and the situation sinister – Reynard was particularly well played, creating a complex and even tender as opposed to a clichéd psychotic. A visually impressive play, with scenery, lighting and projections creating an evocative texture. This combined with the sound effects really made the whole atmosphere work. Crucial for suspending ones disbelief in this kind of production, Obviously a team effort but they managed to pull it off. Ambitious and imaginative. I hope to see more of this ilk in 2004 – good stuff.Etta Harrie, Nexus, Issue 1 2004