‘Smashed’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by September 22, 2016

‘Smashed’ was devised by 38 years old Lally Katz, a playwright who was born in New Jersey. As a teenager, she moved to Canberra. Lally trained with the ‘Australian Theatre for Young People’ to improve her acting skills; then, in 2013 Katz’s starred in a one-woman show, playing to packed houses at Sydney’s Belvoir and Melbourne’s Malthouse Theatre.

She later honed her writing skills at London’s Royal Court Theatre.

‘Smashed’ is a moving, beautifully written, 40-minute play; it is now showing at the Hayman Theatre in Curtin University, Perth with performances on Sunday 18th and 25th, and weekdays at noon.

 

The set (designer, Noah Bateman) comprises large pieces of broken car, strewn around. Some parts are suspended in the air by fishing gut, giving the appearance of a freeze frame on the horrendous accident that has just occurred. Stage managed by Lizzie Howard.

The soundscape (Max Gipson) was crisp and clear, giving a real chill to the accident. There was a dream sequence, well created by lighting designer, Matthew Arnold. Smooth tech operation by Ashleigh Ryan.

 

     The lights rise to show the scene of a car crash, with pieces of vehicle everywhere. Draped over the motor parts are two bodies.

     Having just passed their driving test, best friends, Ruby (Kate Elliott) and Hazel (Shanae Tuxford) borrow their Dad’s car and go on a celebratory run. The action takes us back and forward in time, allowing us to experience the girls’ final moments, as their life flashes before their eyes.

 

Sadly, the amount of work being put into some of the Hayman lunchtime shows has recently dropped off. With fewer posters around the Campus, and with little thought being put into production details like scenery and lighting.

Director Terence Smith, aided by dramaturg Olivia Dugandzic, have done their best to bring standards back up to what was a basic requirement 3 years ago. In those days, a couple of actors would go into the cafeteria and shout at each other across the room advising everyone where the theatre is and how the shows are free each week. Some shows have had barely a dozen in the audience. This production was almost full, proving that if you work hard, the punters will turn up.

The actors had to deliver tragic news, and then seconds later portray their lives as carefree children. The chemistry between the two actors, Kate and Shanae, was superb, greatly heightening the tragic circumstances. The movement was natural, as they acted with their whole bodies, showing meaningful facial expressions and with clear enunciation.

A well-written play cleverly directed and brought to ‘life’ – although in this case that might be the wrong expression – by superb acting. One of only three lunchtime shows worth seeing this year.