SYDNEY THEATRE COMPANY STC WHARF1
Powerful and disturbing , this is a gripping , most unusual production.
A new play by Hilary Bell, it tells the story of every parent’s nightmare. Their daughter, Laura, 5 years old, was abducted 9 months ago .She has now been safely returned but is traumatised and will not speak.
At five, does she remember her favourite toys, particular favoured words and rituals ? or not ? Is it in fact really Laura or is she a changeling ?Erik and Helen Thomson as the Father and Mother give very strong, intense performances .
The play in parts has an eerie , dreamlike nightmarish feeling. All is tense , jittery , a fractured relationship jumping at shadows and a curtain blowing in the wind.
The marriage is disintegrating , both parents blaming themselves for Laura’s disappearance. Both hesitate to question if Laura is the ‘real’ Laura or not .Is she ? Both strive to accept her re – appearance and love her as much as possible. There is a sinister, dark /bad side of the ‘fairytale’ element in this play emphasised by the reading of ‘Snow White’ passages among other things. The fairytale angle is also developed in the hair brushing scene for example and the language the Father uses at times.
There is marvellous use of exquisite Laura puppets , manipulated Bunraku like by who at certain points also become Laura – again for example in the hairbrushing scene and the breastfeeding . They also help create the eerie atmosphere throughout.
The powerful ending is haunting and undecided leading to much discussion. ( Note - if you are in the first few rows towards the end of the show you are drowned in dry ice ). What really happens when the Father takes Laura for a walk just before they plan to leave ? is it the real Laura?
Fine performances in this excellent production of this chilling , gripping new Hilary Bell play.
Running time – an intense 70 mins ( approx) no interval
The Splinter by Hilary Bell
STC Wharf 1
10 August – 15 Sept 2012
Director Sarah Goodes
Puppetry and Movement Director Alice Osborne
Designer Renee Mulder
Lighting Designer Damien Cooper
Composer Emily Maguire
Sound Design Steve Francis