On the 10th of May I had the pleasure of working front of house for the opening night of Amanda McErlean’s performance of “THE QUIGHTING TIME” as part of this year’s Anywhere Theatre Festival. This production is a creative collaboration between Amanda McErlean and The Curator’s Michael Beh who is also Director. Amanda is known for her recent performances in The Curators rendition of Anton Chekov’s “Uncle Vanya” and the “Mortality and Polity” 2017 Adelaide Fringe Festival season by Make Theatre.
The Quighting Time is a window into one woman’s (Simone) lonely descent into suicide through song and emotion. In true Anywhere Theatre style, the performance is set in a modern apartment in the Brisbane suburb of Toowong, where Amanda does a convincing and brave performance, engaging in the full gamut of emotions through paroxysm’s of laughter, weeping and rage as she progresses through her nightly rituals; preparing dinner over a glass of wine while listening to her stimulating music playlist, leading the audience to associate their thoughts and feelings with the physical and emotional unravelling before them.
The playlist is interspersed with several voiceovers spoken by Penny Everingham. These include the poetry of Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare and Tennyson. These voiceovers are used to help the audience understand Simone’s state of mind relating to a past love which she has clearly never gotten over.
Throughout the performance, at key points, Simone covers her mouth with pieces of gaffer tape. This curious behaviour leads one to think perhaps that she is suppressed/repressed and has nobody to talk her pain out with, from my vantage point seated on the balcony, this evokes thoughts of the malady of loneliness that many of us in the modern world suffer today all piled on top of each other in apartments where people can look in but have limited or no contact as a true community.
Whilst this production leaves you with more questions than answers and could be tightened by cutting maybe one or two songs from the wide ranging playlist, it leaves you feeling that the strongest element of this production is the very raw, human, natural feel it has. This woman could be anyone you know if not yourself and this is shown through her subtle reactions to even the smallest things, burning herself on her microwave dinner, binge drinking her pain away, hiding herself behind her make up whilst thinking of the person that she used to be and what she has loved and lost culminating in her overdose and final realisation, too late of course, that it really is happening and that there is no way back from the brink.