Venue: Bondi Pavilion Theatre (Bondi NSW), Oct 29 – Nov 23, 2013
Playwright: Sarah Doyle
Director: Sarah Doyle
Actors: Damian de Montemas, Simon Lyndon, Leeanna Walsman, Martin Broome
There are stories that appear time and time again in our theatres because they contain evergreen ingredients, but once in a blue moon, a new story emerges that is poignant, interesting and representative of the times we live in. Anaconda is a tale that can only be told in civilisations that have achieved some level of gender and sexual liberation, and where religion is open to scrutiny. Taboos are omnipresent, but they evolve. What was once unspeakable is suddenly given release, and now is the time that themes of sexual abuse, and their many repercussions, are beginning to gain attention in public fora of certain societies.
Sarah Doyle’s script is an important one. It investigates the unraveling of sexual trauma in adult males from different perspectives, and we are provided valuable insight into hidden truths that are buried underneath the surfaces of our daily lives. Revelation is one of the most revered purposes of art. The play does not hold back at exposing gruesome details (although re-enactments are thankfully avoided), and descriptions of those details resonate powerfully with appalling terror.
Less successful however, is Doyle’s direction of her own writing. Characters do not develop as extensively as the story allows, and they come across overly simplified. The dynamics of the wife and husband relationship in particular, lack chemistry and credibility, even though performances are fairly strong. Actors are cast well, and all four bring conviction and gravitas to their roles, but the show requires greater “light and shade” for the dramatics of the script to work more effectively.
The greatest beauty in Anaconda is the way its plot unfolds. Full of intrigue and suspense, it provides great theatricality to what could have been a dreary, depressing experience. This show is a captivating one, and the air of mystery it creates ultimately finds gratification when it divulges its gritty and shocking secrets.