Review: Between Two Waves (Sydney University Dramatic Society)

suds1Venue: Cellar Theatre, University of Sydney (Camperdown NSW), Mar 4 – 7, 2015
Director: Jack Ballhausen
Playwright: Ian Meadows
Cast: Charlie Falkner, Geneva Gilmour, Kendra Murphy, Dominic Scarf
Image by Julia Robertson

Theatre review
Metropolitan lives are filled with anxiety. Our societies are competitive, and everything seems to manifest in the form of a race. Careers, relationships, politics and deeply personal issues like health and procreation, are all informed by notions of ideals, and a need to live up to expectations, of others and from our selves. Ian Meadows’ Between Two Waves is a thoughtful script that touches on many contemporary concerns like mental health and climate change, as well as intimate themes of family and death. Language is used beautifully to express deep emotions and a perspective of the world that seems idiosyncratic but has a surprisingly ubiquitous resonance. Its characters are well crafted, each with a distinct charm, but their narratives are overly detailed, and the plot can at times feel repetitive and slow.

Direction of the work by Jack Ballhausen is elegant, with an uncanny ability to portray authenticity in every scene. His vision is a quiet one, and although the story unfolds with enough clarity, its pace needs a more dynamic and concise approach for an already lengthy text. Performances are strong, especially Charlie Falkner who plays Daniel with poignancy, focus and excellent conviction. His confident, yet relaxed, presence keeps us connected and engaged, and coupled with a powerful and magnetic voice, the young actor’s work is both refreshing and engrossing. Kendra Murphy and Geneva Gilmour provide solid performances in support parts, giving the production a much needed variation in tone with the divergent styles they bring to the stage. Along with Dominic Scarf, all players create genial personalities, with an enthused commitment that is quite memorable. Also noteworthy is Maddie Houlbrook-Walk’s lighting design, which helps to create contrast between sequences, and for giving dimension to a blank space presented without set pieces.

The challenges Daniel faces in Between Two Waves are as complex and manifold as many in the audience have experienced in real life. The production bears a certain accuracy in its depiction of a person’s troubled times, but its gentleness betrays the brutality of our memories. The universe is capable of serving up cruel blows to our time on earth, and sharing our pain at the theatre can be cathartic, but only if there is no holding back.