Venue: Kings Cross Theatre (Kings Cross NSW), Jun 24 – Jul 9, 2022
Playwright: Jackson Used
Director: Shane Anthony
Cast: Jack Angwin, Kate Skinner
Two people fall in love, but one is an addict. In Jackson Used’s Lilac, we encounter a love that does not conquer all, in fact it is quite the opposite. Diana and George are not the lucky ones. Instead of their union helping them become better persons, both experience continual deterioration, yet the forces that draw them together are strong and resolute. This ill-fated relationship is rendered convincingly by playwright Used, through a series of two-hander scenes that fluctuate between compelling and mundane. The dialogue steers clear of sensationalism, which makes for a show that can sometimes feel insufficiently dramatic, but Lilac bears an air of authenticity that invites us to consider its ideas with commensurate circumspection.
Shane Anthony’s direction of the piece too, is reliant on establishing a sense of truthfulness, to appeal to our appetite for examining a deeper humanity. More refinement is needed however, for transitions between scenes, to prevent our concentration from being repeatedly disrupted. Set design by Adrienne Andrews delivers a simple white box that helps our imagination accommodate the many spatial transformations required of this 90-minute play. Melancholic lights by Saint Clair, along with a sensual sound design by Chrysoulla Markoulli, create moments of transcendent beauty, to accompany the intensifying tragedy.
Jack Angwin and Kate Skinner play the lovers, both performers wonderfully intricate and persuasive with all that they bring to the stage. Angwin’s extraordinary level of commitment ensures that we see only characters telling a story, and that the actor’s work is skilfully hidden from sight. Skinner brings power to the role of Diana, able to convey her weaknesses as human vulnerability, to be understood and not to be blamed.
It is true that when one falls in love, so much can simply go out of control. It is not entirely true however, that one cannot help but fall in love. We watch Diana keep getting sucked back into the abyss of a life with George, and each time we will for her to walk away. Perhaps it is easier said than done, to stop oneself from loving. or perhaps these are lessons that one can only learn the hard way, and both Diana and George will one day be able to stay out of trouble, after years of toxic embroilment.