‘Body Farm’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by December 7, 2016

‘Body Farm’ is a chilling new play, by Curtin University honours graduate. Michael Collins. This play was a Griffin Theatre Playwriting Award winner. Collins also won the best emerging artist award at the 2014 Perth Fringe and was then nominated for the prestigious Patrick White Playwriting Award.

‘STAGE ONE’ is an initiative of the Theatre Arts course at Curtin University. Now in its 5th year, it offers Western Australian playwrights the opportunity to write and premiere a new play. It is then produced at the Blue Room Theatre, providing undergraduates with the acting and technical experience of working and exploring a new work.

Previous Curtin students, who have benefited from this perfect opportunity, include Frances O’Connor, Mandy McElhinney, Kate Atkinson, Clare Hooper, Kate Mulvany and Jess De Gouw.

This 70-minute dark unsettling play, with touches of black comedy, can be seen at The Blue Room Theatre, Perth Cultural Centre, Northbridge until Saturday 10th December. Please check the performance times.

 

Alexander Gerrans set of Patrick Howe’s design, is a very convincing garage and store room. There are several very good weather and woodland effects. Lizzie Howard had some unusual and difficult props to acquire. The costume supervisors were Taylor Burtenshaw and Gemma Wilkie, who created realistic gore damaged clothes.

Joe Lui mentored both Noah Bateman with his realistic soundscape, and Kane Scriven’s wonderful mood lighting.

Stage Management ran smoothly thanks to Sally Davies and her deputy, Jack Wilson.

The whole production was overseen by Stephen Carr and Karen Cook.

 

The scene is today in the region of the NSW Blue Mountains.

     In the mountainous countryside is a Body Farm, this is where people who have left their bodies to science are left lying around in different soils and fluids so that pathologists can gather information on how quickly bodies decompose in different circumstances.

     When Anton died, his family found that he had left his body to the Farm; his sister (Jess Nyanda Moyle) is devastated that he did not have a proper funeral. One day at university, a girl with an angelic face and a nervous smile (Caitlin McFeat) approaches the sister, and gabbling away asks if she would like to join her church.

     In a nearby garage, owned by the aunt and uncle of #2 (Bianca Roose), is a group known as ‘The Family of the Book’ – who, for anonymity reasons, prefer to use numbers rather than names. Dressed in white forensic overalls are two threatening men #3 and #4 (Frazer Shepherdson, Sam Ireland). After painstaking planning, they have kidnapped the Body Farm’s caretaker (Ming Yang Lim) in order to gain access.

       A slightly dozy member of the group, #6 (Anna Lindstedt) arrives wearing non-standard ‘Family’ clothing. With her is the leader, #1 (Declan Brown) who, knowing that it won’t be long before the police arrive, decides to quickly move in on the Farm.

       After such planning and with God on their side, what could possibly go wrong?

 

The director and guiding light of this highly original play, is the multi award-winning actor and writer, Will O’Mahony; who on this occasion is assisted in the directing by Chelsea Gibson. The play has superbly observed and richly written characters. The action starts with humour and slowly works up to a gripping climax, followed by a scene that had the whole audience squirming.

The actors each knew their part in the story’s colourful jigsaw. Many very different parts working in perfect harmony. One small suggestion, when there is a great deal of shouting, either lower the voices down an octave, or speak more slowly – even in the wildest argument – as some of the diction was lost.

Adroit direction of a terrific script, involving an interesting set of characters and backed by clever technical skills. Strongly recommended, you will not have seen a play like this before.