Heartstring-Theatre-Still-Elisa-Armstrong-Joanne-Booth-photo-by-Angel-LeggasStill by Jen Silverman is a swirling world of vignettes where world weary characters navigate loss, chaos and rebirth while holding strong and steadfast to their core identities and beliefs.

Jen Silverman has crafted a work that feels far more disjointed than it should – a swirl of ideas that never quite land and metaphor that lacks the subtlety to be poetic. The script doesn’t often sit long enough in one place to truly explore an idea or conversely, issues are overly explored and robbed of any emotional weight.

Sarah Vickery’s direction anchors the work – giving the characters firm footing to move through the text with ease. Vickery’s eye for detail is not lost in the cacophony of words, as she builds a world that is real and flawed, sticky and sleek, familiar and alienating.

The ensemble of Elisa Armstrong, Sara Bolch, Joanne Booth and Joey Lai flourish with what they have to work with. Each performer is engaged and present – the level of commitment and talent is truly inspiring, with each performer whole heartedly believing the world they find themselves in.

There is never a moment when the ensemble are not engaged, each working flawlessly to keep the tension high, the comedy sharp and the barbs of truth cutting. A truly solid example of committed ensemble work.

The design team of Gabriel Bethune, Jan Wong and Bethany J Fellows are exquisite. Fellows uses the difficult space to their advantage – creating a set that feels grounded yet fluid at the same time.

There is something about the set that feels gel-like – a viscous world that slowly slips through the cracks. Wong’s sound is haunting – leaning into the liquid nature of the world. Imagery of spit and blood and sweat bubble up, enhancing the production and adding a deep layer of immersion to the audience experience.

Heartstring Theatre’s production of Still is testament to what good creatives can do with a mediocre script. These artists have created a masterful production and uniquely made this work their own – a world that is reflective of ourselves yet too fluid to ever hold tight in our grasp.

fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Performance: Sunday 4 July 2021 – 5.00pm
Season continues to 11 July 2021
Information and Bookings:

Image: Elisa Armstrong and Joanne Booth in Still – photo by Angel Leggas

Review: Gavin Roach