Venue: Flight Path Theatre (Marrickville NSW), Mar 2 – Mar 20, 2021
Playwright: Suzanne Hawley
Director: Kim Hardwick
Cast: Di Adams, Philip D’Ambrosio, Lewis Fitz-Gerald, Katrina Foster, Helen O’Connor, Di Smith
Images by Lisa Tomasetti
When Jackie’s health begins to fail, it is her group of besties who come to the rescue. Suzanne Hawley’s Wild Thing features four women who share a friendship of over half a century. Now in their sixties, each individual is no less vivacious or fun-loving, and even though nature does not spare them the usual and inevitable impediments, we discover their spirit to be unyielding.
Hawley’s endearing characters tell a meaningful story, of love, of resilience, and ultimately, of generosity. It showcases the best qualities of being old, and even though its earnestness can feel somewhat overwrought, there is much wisdom to be gained, as always, from being in close quarters with our seniors.
A humorous piece with lively direction by Kim Hardwick, Wild Thing opens up discussions surrounding ageing and death, in a surprisingly upbeat manner. End of life is an emotional affair, but it is also inescapable, so to treat it with some degree of levity can only be healthy.
The presentation is designed competently, with Tom Bannerman’s set leaving a particularly good impression. Able to offer versatility, as well as practical solutions, Bannerman’s creation is an efficient performance space that frees up the cast for what they do best.
Di Smith brings nuance to the role of Jackie, along with considerable dignity to this important tale of personal agency, for women of a certain age. Helen O’Connor is memorable as the carefree Elizabeth, bringing a sense of cheeky ebullience to the show. The passionate Frances is played by Katrina Foster, whose approach proves to be unmistakeably kooky, and Di Adams’ restraint only makes Susan’s sexual escapades more scandalous.
We need to talk a lot more, about the subject of dying. It seems that evasion is how Australians (and much of the world) typically deal with mortality, which is to say, that we do not deal with it at all. It is our propensity to leave facing it, until the final moments when we have nowhere to run. It is ironic that we should place attention on everything else except for the one certainty in life. Thankfully, art exists to remind us of who we are, at our most essential.