Review by Korey Brennan
Of all the places to stage a performance, Bert Hinkler Park, a small clear patch adjacent to the nearby Eildon Hill Reserve, is one of the most unexpectedly haunting venues one could envision. Arriving after the sun had already set, I soon understood why this space was ideal for this particular piece. We were marched through the park to a far corner, surrounded by the bush of the reserve, with eerie lights illuminating a space in front where the performance took place. The masterstroke in this particular location was the marrying of the raked staging and the backdrop of what appeared to be branches and foliage stretching high into a black hole in the canopy, an abyss that gave me a strange sense of vertigo when I looked up into it. Once we were seated, torches snapped to life, illuminating the actors, and it soon became clear that this was to be the only lighting for the performance.
DNA is a story about a class of students who commit a heinous act, but end up falling further down the rabbit hole as more problems arise from their attempts to prevent the truth from coming out. This story is one that is plagued with black humour, and often times I found myself laughing, only to realise others around me appeared mortified or disapproving. This did not dissuade me, however, from enjoying the performance to its fullest, appreciating the humour perhaps due to my own perspective of the performance. What I witnessed was believable character tropes represented in an often lackluster manner. While each character had its own development and motivation, I soon began to blur and confuse several, as I believed their characters were often staged in the background, or used to achieve a single task in the script, only to be tossed aside. It seemed to me to be four main characters, with an ensemble of five.
The strongest characters in this staging of DNA were Leah and Isabella. Leah, due to her vast monologues directed towards another character who seldom speaks, and Isabella for her incredibly eerie portrayal of a scared girl who is intimidated to breaking point, medicated, and completely unaware of the situation anymore. Leah’s monologues display insight beyond her initial simple nature, though I did on occasion find my attention wandering, though this was due to the large blocks of text I was expected to absorb which was not helped by the characters erratic train of thought and topic changes. Isabella, however, captured me whenever she was present. Even when she was in the background, I found her character much more relatable than the other, and her acting skills must be praised for embodying a character that has such a drastic internal dilemma which is manifested for all to see.
In summary, I found this to be an incredibly enjoyable experience, heightened by a great deal of positive elements. In terms of the setting, costumes and lighting, I was sucked in to the atmosphere of it all, and the sounds of nature we experienced throughout was another incredibly immersive, considered touch which added yet another layer to the show. Tee Ball Ticket Theatre should be extremely proud of the show they developed for this year’s Anywhere Theatre Festival, and I look forward to their next production with keen interest.
Full disclaimer: The reviewer is friends with and has worked with members of Tee Ball Ticket Theatre previously.
DNA runs for the following dates at 7:30pm
7th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 19th, 20th, 21st of May
Tickets are available from the following link: https://anywherefest.com/event/dna/2016-05-05/