Directed by Kim Hardwick
White Box Theatre
Old 505 @ 5 Eliza
5 Eliza Street, Newtown
Season: 5 - 23 July
Sometimes it’s important that theatre upsets you. Life isn’t all fine and dandy. In fact, it’s often the opposite. If theatre is fulfilling its role to reflect life as we actually live it, then sometimes it needs to make us feel sick and angry and helpless. Because sometimes, this is what it means to honestly look at the complex and messy and ugly lives we live. In Catherine McKinnon’s new play Hurt, we see people hurting through their own unique experiences. We see people irrevocably hurting one another. And to see all this raw pain and emotion on stage inevitably will make you as an audience member hurt for these people as well. This is an excellent play, that has you teetering on the edge of your seat from beginning to end, and this White Box Theatre production directed by Kim Hardwick brings it to an electrifying life.
Three people are brought together in a hospital waiting room when a child is hit by a car. Mother, Mel, played by Meredith Penman. Father, Dominic, played by Ivan Donato. And the outsider, Alex, played by Gabrielle Scawthorn. McKinnon maintains a good grasp on what information to withhold, so that when the audience does find out information it hits hardest. Performances are excellent on all fronts, and is necessary given the immense pressure on three actors to perform at such a high intensity. I was completely taken aback by Penman’s performance – from the get-go she was drowned in Mel’s situation, completely embodying the character. She was full throttle the entire time, and I have complete admiration for her constant commitment and rigour as a performer. Far out. Donato brought an explosive quality to the character of Dominic, and showed the menacing rearing of the head of relationship breakdown. I enjoyed seeing him soften at points, as it only reinforced the impact of his otherwise quite brutal nature. Scawthorn does the unthinkable and brings her brilliant comedic abilities into play in this work. She navigates the solemnity of the situations well, and creates some sickening images through her storytelling – and yet there were still some moments of respite for audiences created through her artful ability to make people laugh.
The car accident in the play is quite horrendous, and yet it is primarily a catalyst for other things to unfold. Naturally, a whole lot of moral questions and societal zeitgeists arise, which will resound with you long after leaving the theatre. I was struck by notions of blame, neglect and responsibility that fall on a mother, and the expectations on her to ‘soldier on’ in spite of deep post-natal depression. The inimicable judgement on a mother for every choice she makes with her child. These are only nibbles from a feast of insight brimming from the play, managing to make incisive statements about society and our relationships with those around us.
Hurt is hard-hitting. To portray the story truthfully requires an abundance of skill and vulnerability by the artists involved. Only by these people giving so much of themselves to create a work such as this, are we as audiences able to see our own world through fresh eyes. When sitting in a position where your sole task is to experience and observe, an individual is freed to be reflective and more understanding. Hurt is a work of theatre that changes you…and how powerful that is.