With a running time of just 50 minutes, All This Living! is a dense, abstract play which demands intense concentration without rewarding it. Whatever the merits of the writing, or insights contained therein, they are so obscured by the distracting symbol-laden direction, that little room is left to engage or empathise with the character.
Entering the theatre the audience discovers Blunden lying on the floor among a collection of cloth covered mounds. She’s clad neck to toe in a furry grey wolf-like onesie which certainly spikes curiosity. The elderly being treated as road-kill perhaps? When she does sit up her hairstyle resembles that of a Greek goddess.
One by one she removes the cloths from the mounds to reveal steel cooking pots containing various props including a necklace made of kitchen utensils and plastic clothes pegs which she clips to herself. Symbolism overload.
The reason for the onesie is never explained, but the dialogue, much of which is delivered in an arch, wide-eyed style, does contain references to Greek gods, witches, wolves, fairy tales and legends. Also scattered throughout are references to difficulties associated with ageing, like being ignored in shops, and maintaining a satisfactory sex life, but no new revelations or insights.
Blunden is a very good actor, and her vocal delivery is exemplary. Every word of her dialogue is crystal clear, but they are not well served by a production which confuses rather than clarifies their meaning and intent.
Director: Rochelle Whyte Writer/Performer: Camilla Blunden Designer: Imogen Keen Sound Designer: Kimmo Vennonen Lighting Design: Gillian Schwab Dramaturg: Peter Matheson
All This Living!
The Street Theatre, 15 Childers Street, Canberra City West
Season: 20 – 31 May 2015
For more information, visit: www.thestreet.org.au for details.
Image: Camilla Blunden in All This Living!
Review: Bill Stephens