Directed by Carissa Licciardello
Leftofcentre Theatre Company
The Old 505 @ 5 Eliza
5 Eliza Street, Newtown
Season: 19 – 23 January
Theatre should be a place where we can experiment – telling new stories in new ways that excite audiences. Inevitably through the process of experimentation comes the need for discussion about aspects of the piece that were both affective and effective, and identifying those that could be honed. Leftofcentre Theatre Company undertake this mighty task in staging a new work by Clare Hennessy, entitled Femme Fatale. Bringing the female voice to the forefront of the work in the vein of performance art in its abstract nature, this show aims to shine a desperately needed spotlight on the deeply flawed social and historical attitudes towards females and notions of femininity.
The show follows three women, Lilith, Eve and Pandora, framing them in their respective relations to Adam. These are characters many are familiar with through literature, however if you’re not I suggest you at least check out the program beforehand – the show is light on exposition. Hennessy’s writing focuses on dialogue rather than allowing much space for physical action, and whilst the text is poetically lovely, it is difficult to sustain a strong connection to the characters. The women’s stories are interspersed, presenting an interesting format for storytelling, however requiring significant audience willpower to maintain focus and properly understand what is happening. There are some glimmering moments of clarity, in which Licciardello’s directorial skills are best exhibited and the actors work with synergy as a small ensemble. These are emphasised by Liam O’Keefe’s excellent lighting design, contributing significantly to shifts in tone throughout the work. However I was left craving more of these moments, and with such an important core message of the piece, the lack of gratification of these cravings is unfortunate.
Henriette Tkalec exudes a powerful confidence that pervades the whole performance, fully embodying the beguiling and devious femme fatale role. The entire cast present a polished performance and fill the theatrical space with the almost claustrophobic sensation experienced by the three women. Suffocated in a patriarchal world and burdened by unfair labels as the ‘root of all evil’, a mere object to be admired, or a menacing temptress responsible for men’s downfall, this show responds with a loud female voice – and is one we must continue to amplify.