There are some beautiful moments in Salt: Caitlyn (Artemis Ioannides) plays with her shadow, colours fractured around the edge, her character held in a prism as things get unsettled and complicated; or the refrain of Mariah Carey’s Sweet Fantasy starting off ecstatic and light, then getting deformed and darker each time it’s returned to; or switching from bright to murk and back again as Caitlyn and Sam (Brigid Gallacher) confront each other, while also expressing/repressing more provocative inner thoughts; or those last decaying minutes as the light loses the actors one by one and we get a suggestion of a final revelation.
Bobby, a famous comedian, is managed by his daughter, Sam. Bobby wants to get into TV, but can’t find the formula for the network to say yes. That is, until Sam discovers Caitlyn, a 13 year-old soon-to-be star, and pairs her with Bobby. Their new show is a hit, but, in so many wonderful, grim, frightening ways, their new-found success comes at a cost.
There was such a nice use of space here. The sitcom set of the small kitchen arrangement stood out against the black stage – like a bright and optimistic cube. How fitting, then, as the story gets into less positive territory that this wee, genial set-up gets literally and figuratively destroyed in a fit of mayhem.
Scott Major did well in the role of Bobby, finding a nice balance between being driven and desperate, with the occasional uneasy air of Robert Hughes about him. It’s a quality of Seanna van Helten’s script and the performances that scenes with Bobby had an increasing sense of tension.
Artemis navigated her character’s early teens in an amusing at first – later, not so much – way. The difference between emotional and physical maturity during puberty make it a particularly vulnerable time, which Artemis portrayed in compelling fashion.
Caught between Bobby and Caitlyn was Sam, in a lovely performance by Brigid Gallacher. The other characters are engaging: Caitlyn is exothermic, Bobby is increasingly perilous – but, Sam is the glue of this world. Try as she might otherwise, Sam wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s not immune to harm, yet she perseveres as best she can, something Brigid portrayed with purpose and grace.
Salt is a show where the seams are showing a bit. Like the promotional art that suggests the look of sodium chloride under a microscope, there’s a roughness to the shape of it, around the edges. What we have at the centre, however, is something refined and excellent.
La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street, Carlton
Performance: Thursday 8 June 2017 – 6.30pm
Season continues to 18 June 2017
For more information, visit: www.shesaidtheatre.com for details.
Image: Pier Carthew
Review: David Collins