Venue: Kings Cross Theatre (Kings Cross NSW), Dec 2 – 17, 2022
Playwright: Morgan Lloyd Malcolm
Director: Becks Blake
Cast: Cara Whitehouse, Jessica Bell
Images by Clare Hawley
Carla and Heather were best friends at school, but things turned awry in Year 7. Reuniting 20 years later, we discover the depth with which those difficult times in their early teens, have affected these now grown women. Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s The Wasp is a story of violence, one that relates particularly to the experience of youth violence by girls and women. We explore its enduring effects, looking at how a person is shaped over time, asking questions about the permanence of damage, and how we carry trauma through our lives. Carla and Heather’s stories are told with a thrilling boldness. Endless twists and turns, accompanied by truly scintillating dialogue, make The Wasp an immense delight, albeit a frequently harrowing one.
Directed by Becks Blake, we are given awesome insight into the psychological and emotional mechanics, of these two very unique yet realistic personalities. Blake makes explosive, each and every shocking revelation in the narrative. The drama is delicious, and the comedy consistently wicked, in a show memorable for its grit and edgy intensity. Fun and scary, The Wasp involves high stakes and controversial ideas, to provoke, to entertain and to engage.
Stage design by Axel Hinkley cleverly fuses two distinct spaces, into one harmonious whole. Hinkley’s costumes, like their set, are accurately rendered, to evoke time, place and importantly class, for this tale of two social strata. Lights by Martin Kinnane are simple, if slightly too subtle in the depiction of textural transformations, for how the relationship morphs between the two women. Johnny Yang’s sound design is wonderfully imaginative, and sensitive in its calibrations of atmosphere, as we delve deeper and deeper into the nightmare of old friends and their old grievances.
Actor Jessica Bell is stunning as Carla, hilarious in her portrayal of proletarian coarseness, and masterful with her concoctions of dramatic tension, keeping us wide eyed and slack jawed for the duration. Bell’s work on this occasion is truly a performance to remember. Heather is played by Cara Whitehouse, whose deep submergence into her character’s twisted world, convinces us of all her deranged antics. The pair is beautifully well-rehearsed, with a sense of intricacy that allows us to read infinitely closely to every detail being presented, and emerge feeling we have learned something remarkable.
Violence begets violence, if conventional wisdom is to be believed. It is true that the effects of violence reverberate beyond inciting incidents. Like the nature of karma, a transference occurs, whether from one person to others, or from one unto themselves. In The Wasp we see the trauma finding ways to manifest, always in ugly and horrific ways, extending inward or outward, to prolong its effects. Damage spreads, and it remains a mystery, if deep hurt can ever just go away.