Haus (Black Raven Productions)

Haus at the Tap Gallery 9th 14thVenue: TAP Gallery (Darlinghurst NSW), Jul 9 – 14, 2013
Playwright: Dimitri Armatas
Director: Dimitri Armatas
Actors: Ruth Murphy, Jorjia Gillis, Paddy Lester, Zacharie Di Ferdinando

Theatre review
A small stage, at a small venue, telling a little tale, set in a tiny cellar, with simplicity and elegance. This is bare bones theatre, but with charming and meticulously thought out set and props. The script fits in perfectly with the space. All the action convincingly surrounds a table, content in the production’s budgetary and spacial limitations. Some effort is made with lighting to provide variation in mood and tone, but while design is effective, its realisation is unsteady. Perhaps the equipment lacks the flexibility required for its desired effects.

The story itself is a dramatic one, set in Nazi occupied Poland. The central theme of family allows some level of identification but the historic nature of the work is alienating. A good amount of tension and emotion is achieved, principally through the determination and stamina of actor Ruth Murphy, but one questions the relevance of a tale that seems to bear no contemporary parallels, and no obvious allegorical applications.  Additionally, the female characters are bewilderingly weak, and their powerlessness is discomforting and distracting.

Jorjia Gillis is miscast, but shows great potential. Although lacking in maturity, she has good presence and displays an unwavering devotion to her matronly character. Similarly, Paddy Lester shows great promise with a natural charm and has good physical agility that seems to elude most young actors. The aforementioned Murphy is a real talent, taking charge of the entire play through sheer grit and with meaningful clarity. Her thorough understanding of the play’s inner workings shows a very intelligent actor who understands not just acting, but also writing. She outshines other members of the cast at the play’s climax, and performs with such intense emotion that one is reminded of early twentieth century German Expressionism, which is completely delightful and suits perfectly the context of the work.

Director and playwright Dimitri Armatas is a brave young man with an idiosyncratic vision. Artists with original voices stand the test of time. There is no doubt that his creative facilities will flourish and the Armatas voice will reverberate for years to come.

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