Review: Construction Of The Human Heart (Apocalypse Theatre Company)

rsz_cothh_170Venue: TAP Gallery (Darlinghurst NSW), Apr 16 – May 3, 2014
Playwright: Ross Mueller
Director: Dino Dimitriadis
Actors: Cat Martin, Michael Cullen
Image by Matthew Duchesne

Theatre review
We live much of our selves through relationships. Meanings are derived through the way we interact with people who surround us. In these interactions, we create stories through creative processes that require collusion from different kinds of intimacies and relations. In Construction Of The Human Heart, life, theatre and words are at war with stories.The characters Him and Her are in the depths of tragedy, and we see their struggle to connect, to move forward, to remain stagnant, and to be.

Sheets of paper with words are everywhere on the stage. The characters attempt to create narratives with the lines they have written, but coherence is beyond reach and connection is impossible. They fail to find meaning. In their desperation, they devise a myriad scenarios, and forge divergent possibilities, but all lead to disintegration and sorrow.

Ross Mueller’s script is intriguing, seductive, and powerful. Its structure is sophisticated and intelligent, but the emotions it conveys is familiar and immediate. It pleasures the mind with challenging elements, and a whole lot of wit, but it devastates the heart with the truths and emotions it portrays.

Direction in this production is provided by Dino Dimitriadis whose excellent work establishes clarity out of abstraction, and externalises for the audience what is really a deeply introspective exploration. It is strange to term this an entertaining show, but the many gear changes it makes with emotions, keeps us thoroughly engaged and fascinated. Dimitradis’ ability in communicating the script’s many subtle nuances is impressive, but it is doubtless that the strength of his cast assists greatly with the play’s success.

Played by Cat Martin, Her is memorable for the strength she displays. Martin’s portrayal of suffering is cleverly obscured, and her creative decisions never aim for the obvious. The universality of the characters’ experience calls for a depiction of agony that is unexpected, and Martin’s use of humour and stoicism gives her work a beautiful complexity. Michael Cullen is a dynamic Him. Cullen is an energetic performer, with an inviting warmth that quickly endears him to the audience. His performance feels authentic and we cannot help but feel moved by it.

We use words to understand our selves, to connect, and to project our futures. We may also use them to re-write histories, to live in pretense and denial, and to lie. In Construction Of The Human Heart, words show us a truth that is rarely articulated; they are the mirror that reveals the way we operate in the throes of darkness.