The Mesh opens in a costume party. Max (Nick Masters) and Lotte (Ella Caldwell) are hosting their good friends Wolf (Kevin Kiernan-Molloy) and Clara (Rosie Lockhart). The two couples have known each other since the old country and now, in a town somewhere just beyond the black stump, they cling to each other for a reminder of the life that was.
The farcical nature of these opening scenes belies the tension and anxiety that the four characters feel, and the actors beautifully capture this tension of emotion and intent. As the memories of home that are less than perfect begin to break through the veneer, the characters’ relationships strain.
When The Suits (Olga Makeeva and Tom Dent) are first mentioned, it is obvious that whatever Max and Wolf have been working on is more shady than sunshine. The chemistry between Makeeva and Dent is just exquisite and, like a pair of menacing elves who speak only in non sequitur, they tighten the spring and take the paranoia to boiling point.
Elise Hearst’s script is divine. In exploring the costumes we all wear when we convince ourselves we’re having a good time, she has written a beautifully lyrical piece, equal parts farce and tragedy. It is not an easy piece to stage and director Paige Rattray has used her cast to full advantage.
These are characters who have erased their past, but have found no future to replace it. There’s a strong comment on how we, as a country, ‘deal with’ new arrivals. The beauty of that comment is that it is not forced upon us as an audience. We are allowed to discover it for ourselves, then reach forward and take it. To be given permission to be active is a wonderful thing for an audience.
This is a great piece of theatre, from every angle. Clever and engaging writing, with sensitive and audience-focused direction, brought alive by immediate, present and very human performances.
Director: Paige Rattray Cast: Ella Caldwell, Tom Dent, Kevin Kiernan-Molloy, Rosie Lockhart, Olga Makeeva, Nick Masters Set & Costume Designer: Mattea Davies Lighting Design: Ross Graham Sound Designer/Composers: Tom Hogan & Kelly Ryall Choreographer: Kurt Phelan Dramaturge: Amelia Evans.
Red Stitch Actors Theatre, Rear 2 Chapel Street, St Kilda East
Performance: Friday 17 October 2014 – 8.00pm
Season continues to 8 November 2014
Bookings: (03) 9533 8083 or online at: www.redstitch.net
For more information, visit: www.redstitch.net for details.
Image: Rosie Lockhart, Tom Dent, Olga Makeeva, Kevin Kiernan-Molloy, Nick Masters in The Mesh – photo by Jodie Hutchinson
Review: Jennifer Piper