Two very diverse plays are presented back to back each night. Gravity Guts by Sophia Simmons & directed by Erica Lovell and Ginger. Black. Brunette. Blonde by Peter Maple & directed by Simon Thomson. Interestingly both plays had an all-female cast. While Gravity Guts is the writer’s semi-autobiographical account of her journey through childhood to adulthood and her tumultuous relationship with her dipsomaniac father and their mutual love for science and astronomy; in Ginger. Black. Brunette. Blonde. we get a peek into the mind of Sarah, who has lived with the memories of dead mother since the age of 5.
Gravity Guts’ director and playwright are also female remarkably enough makes it a complete female dominant play with the mention of a male character, the alcoholic and heavy smoker father who never comes on the stage. Sophia finds sci-fi and stars as the familiar subject to have a conversation with her father. She takes the audience to a journey visiting every year of her childhood until she turns 14 and confronts her father. Director Erica Lovell used a human cluster form of performance comprises with a group of six female actors always moving with Sophia played brilliantly by Emily McKnight. The chorus sung and created some sound effects by mouth were very convincing and elevated the entire presentation.
The second play can be assumed as Sophia turns Sarah to tell story of her mother. Sarah’s memories are haunted by her mother’s illness and her fight through cancer and she is caught in the ongoing nightmare of how her mother might have dealt with her disease, the pain, the gamut of emotions that a person experiences while battling a terminal illness. Also Sarah’s struggle to escape the memories of a mother who she hardly knew.
Jessie Lancaster plays the mother with an almost confronting intensity that matches Emily McKnight’s Sarah, who is played with compassion and an understated sensitivity. A third character played by Nell Nakkan, of a lady visiting a beauty salon who rambles on about her mundane life while sitting under the hair dryer. Its not clear whether this character is the mother in her younger years or another family member, perhaps a sister who is totally self absorbed and oblivious to the pain and suffering around her. Nell plays the character well, providing the much-needed moments of reprieve from the almost graphic retelling of a patient’s story who is at the brink of death. The title of the play refers to the heart-breaking scene where the mother tries on different coloured wigs when she loses her own hair.
The play is dark and confronting with effective lighting and brilliant sound design. Director Simon Thomson has done an impressive job of bringing out the best out of the actors and using the small performance space effectively, essentially dividing it into two separate locations.
We are seeing some very interesting and poignant works through Sydney Fringe and look forward to more in the coming years. Company of Rogues an Indy theatre started in 2015 presented ‘Double Bill’ as part of Sydney Fringe, on 9 – 19th October 2019, at the Fringe HQ at Kings Cross.
Gravity Guts by Sophie Simmons | Directed by Erica Lovell Cast: Emily Mcknight, Naomi Belet, Angie Brooke, Kathryn Edmonds, Jessica Loeb, Monika Pierprzyk, Monica Sayers Ginger. Black. Brunette. Blonde. by Peter Maple | Directed By: Simon Thomson Cast: Emily Mcknight, Jessie Lancaster, Nell Nakkan Photo Credit: Omnes Photography
by One-eyed Jacks
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