‘Marble’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by February 22, 2018

‘Marble’ is a pioneering, contemporary play, with hints of Albee’s ‘Virginia Woolf’, it was written by university lecturer, Dublin born playwright, Dr Marina Carr – the doctorate is in literature. The play was published in 2009, and has won some of the world’s most prestigious and lucrative prizes (one was about quarter of a million Australian dollars). Having parents who were playwrights, and musicians, even as a child Marina was soon running a theatre of her own in the back shed, for her school friends.

Originally presented at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, this 2-hour, Australian Premiere is being presented by the Darlington Theatre Players can be seen at the comfortable Marloo Theatre, 20 Marloo Road, (off Innamincka Road), Greenmount Hill. The curtain goes up at 8.00 pm each Wednesday, Friday and Saturday until Saturday the 10th March. There are matinées on Sunday 25th February and 4th March at 2.00 pm.

 

The set: at the rear of the stage is a marble boudoir, with white marble walls, floor, doors and even the windows are marble. There is a luxury round, silk bed overlooked by a full-sized Greek God statue (Owen Davis). This portion of the stage is behind a scrim (a gauze curtain that with correct lighting can hide the view behind). The lighting was designed by Shelly Miller and operated by Jeremy Salt.

The unusual music, especially the opening number ‘The Fall’ by Carl Barat, was chosen by sound designer, Michèle Acott, with the sound operation by Charlotte Meagher.

 

The scenes include a bar, Catherine and Ben’s living room, and Art and Anne’s sitting room. The furniture comprises a three piece suite, matching tables, and bar stools. All are made in the Art Deco style, in wood painted pale grey.

The scene changes were made like a ‘wipe’ on the cinema screen. A 3-metre square ‘slab of black marble’ slid like a curtain, across the stage. The stage hands, furniture, props (Lesley Sutton) and actors all made their entrances and exits behind the slab, without the need for a blackout and yet still out of sight of the audience. This helped keep the pace of the show moving along perfectly. Hard, tricky work for stage manager, Belinda Beatty and her crew, Carol Hall, David Seman, Locklen Falkingham and Lachlan Satie. A very clever effect that must have taken a great deal of planning.

 

          The opening scene shows a marble bedroom with red pulsing light, throbbing in time to the sound of a heartbeat.

          In a bar, a couple of men are drinking. Although they have been business friends for 30 years, neither have met each other’s wife and children for more than a few minutes in all that time – and that was some years ago. The two men are Art (Joe Isaia), who is a bit of a larrikin, and Ben (Peter Clark) a more staid, sensitive and deep thinking man, are enjoying a brandy after work.

       With a smile, Art informs Ben that last night in his dreams he had made love to Catherine (Krysia Wiechecki), Ben’s wife, in a heavenly bedroom completely built of white polished marble, in a silk bed with a Greek marble statue overlooking the torrid, erotic affair. Art thought it was hilarious; however Ben became extremely jealous, and rushed off home to see if his wife still loved him.

       At home, Ben is shattered to find that his wife had exactly the same dream, and was quite excited by it. With a few kids to look after, Catherine enjoyed the little excitement in her life.

       In Art’s home, his wife of 20 years, Anne (Kylie Isaia) again with a brood of children, is continually exhausted and just wants the easy life. She even tells Art that if he wishes to philander, then just go ahead.

        Can there be a happy balance, or are these typical urban families heading for disaster?

 

This play’s script does not hold back on the punches, and so required a confident and experienced cast to make it work. The brave, highly talented cast, under the sensitive guidance of director Rodney van Groningen, take the audience through the ennui of two stale marriages, to the excitement of their dreams. All of this experienced cast have been nominated for, and won, most of the major acting awards in Perth; but even so, they are all taken out of their comfort zones.

Krysia gives a magnificent performance, with a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute high and madly in love, and then extreme lows and depression. I have seen Krysia many times, but this her best performance yet. Peter as her extremely jealous husband is truly mentally tortured by the circumstances, a powerful and exhausting part for him.

Joe had to show elation, confusion whilst fighting his conscience. Kylie at first glance seemed to be simply a bored housewife, but she cleverly threw in hints of her inner feeling. A subtle and mind evoking presentation.

With a director who has had 35 years in the theatre, and who has proved his immense talent in all areas of theatre production from scenery building through acting, lighting to directing, Rodney van Groningen is a name that promised a top notch show. With an outstanding cast my expectations were huge, and I was not disappointed.

Touches of humour, but mainly a wonderful study of the family relationship of two couples. Real quality.