Review: Hilt (Mirror Mirror)

hiltVenue: Old 505 Theatre (Surry Hills NSW), Mar 12 – 30, 2014
Playwright: Jane Bodie
Director: Dominic Mercer
Actors: Alexandra Aldrich, Joanna Downing, Stephen Multari, Sam O’Sullivan

Theatre review
Jane Bodie’s script seduces with intrigue and structural complexity. Her characters divulge little of themselves, but we witness their interchanges at close range. At play is the way these contemporary Australians interact with each other, and we see how connections are formed in our modern lives. Bodie sets up what at first seems to be unconventional relationships, but over the course of her storytelling, we begin to question whether these are exceptional cases that we witness, or actually, a rare confession of common experiences.

Direction and performances tend towards naturalism, which makes Hilt “audience friendly”, turning challenging ideas into digestible concepts. Director Dominic Mercer succeeds in creating believable characters and communicating details of their stories, but could benefit from taking a little artistic license in expression. Real life sometimes needs sprucing up for the stage.

Mercer’s cast is a focused one, and all have clear trajectories with their individual motivations and destinations. Alexandra Aldrich plays Kate with a lot of graveness, which is an accurate depiction of the dark world in which she dwells, but prevents some of the dialogue from being more dramatic and punchy. Stephen Multari is effective in highly emotive scenes that require anger and frustration. Both actors seem constrained by the subtle and minimalist setting. Supporting actors Joanna Downing and Sam O’Sullivan provide excellent support and necessary lightness, helping add variety to the show’s palette of moods.

This is an Australian story that is as valid as any. It does however, have an unexpected sophistication in the incisive way it talks about family, marriage and sex. Nothing in the twenty-first century can truly be claimed as being unique to any cosmopolitan city, but Hilt certainly articulates a lot about what life today is like in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, etc. It provides a mirror into the things we do. Its accuracy and originality might be disorientating, but good art is known to do that.