Venue: Blood Moon Theatre (Potts Point NSW), Sep 25 – 29, 2018
Playwright: Don Nigro
Directors: Deborah Jones, Naomi Livingstone
Cast: Gemma Scoble, Romney Stanton, Blake Wells
Image by Lauren Orrell
Cally and her mother Rose, live an isolated life in the cornfields, somewhere in North America. Having turned 18, Cally is experiencing a libidinal push that is making her wander from the house, into the nefarious grasp of a mysterious stranger. A scarecrow stands on the farmland, protecting its harvest and the two lonely women. In Don Nigro’s play Scarecrow, we are unsure if its mystical powers are doing good or harm, as we watch the women’s miserable lives unfold. Semblances of a family curse in the story give it a surprising complexity, as we observe the cyclical effects of trauma overwhelm the household’s two generations.
Romney Stanton is spectacular in the role of the deranged and very dramatic matriarch, using the character’s obsessive vigilance to deliver some deliciously operatic moments, full of flamboyant intensity. Stanton is mesmerising, wonderfully convincing as the mad rambling Rose. The vivacious young Cally is played by Gemma Scoble, whose portrayal of naive rebellion is memorably passionate, especially effective when called upon to demonstrate the unimaginable anguish of a teenager having to tolerate an invisible existence. Blake Wells is suitably seductive as the testosteroned stranger who instigates discord between the women, subtle but solid in his support of the leading ladies.
Directed by Deborah Jones and Naomi Livingstone, the production is elegantly assembled, for a no frills staging of a fascinating play. As we watch the women disintegrate, we question their circumstances and their capacity for agency within those circumstances. In Nigro’s narrative, fearful women channel their strength into cruelty. A cautionary tale perhaps, reminding us of the contradictory truth, that our strength, far from causing harm to other women, actually keeps us from self-destruction. Strong women know to lift each other up, because we know the forces determined to keep us down, are perennial, pervasive and persistent.