by Lynn on October 5, 2021

in The Passionate Playgoer

On line and live at City Hall—William St. Parking Lot, Waterloo, Ont. Part of IMPACT 21, Oct. 8, 2021.

Written by Henrietta Baird

Directed by Liza-Mare Syron

Choreography by Vicki Van Hout

Sound and composition by Nick Wales and Rhyan Clapham (Dobby)

Lighting by Karen Norris

Set by Kevin O’Brien

Performed by Shakira Clanton

A stunning, gut-twisting piece of theatre from Australia.

From the show information: “Lara, a Sydney mum working interstate (Queensland) as a dancer, receives a distress call from her youngest son, Kyle. Dad hasn’t been seen for days and they are running out of food. Lara has only the weekend to traverse the world of high-rise public housing, drug dealing, and addiction to track him down.”

When Lara flies home from Queensland she hugs her two songs, Kyle and Charlie and questions them about their father, Simon. He just up and left them says the boys. Lara then spends hours calling Simon’s phone with no answer. Finally a woman in a rough voice answers. This is Ronnie. Lara wangles the address out of her and she goes over to confront Simon. The address is a high-rise complex of public housing. The elevator has blood and excrement on the walls and buttons to take you to the floors. Lara almost gags on the stench.

When she gets to Ronnie’s apartment she finds Ronnie, a gruff woman who deals drugs. She lost her two children when she left them in the care of her sister. Her sister was busted and the cops took the children away. In the apartment are various people strung out on drugs. Lara then spends time with Ronnie chasing every lead to find her husband who just stepped out to get some drinks. Lara is plunged into a world of addiction in which mother passes on the addictions to her children. Ronnie gave a young hysterical teen some drugs to calm her down (this was the only way she knew to do it). The young teen then became an addict as well.

Playwright Henrietta Baird has created a vivid, sordid world of the addict. It’s a world peopled by people who want to find their place, love, something positive. And yet she does not judge her characters. We see that world through Lara’s eyes, her desperation to find her partner, Simon, and take him to task for leaving their children alone without food for days. It’s a world where Lara is shocked by the addictions and desperation she is seeing. But her lack of judgement, her compassion for these people is hopeful in a way.

She has a realization at the end, that she might be like these people, (I won’t be specific) that I found might be a bit too quick a conclusion. It does make sense, but it seems to come too quickly. We need more information to build up to it.

A large standing mirror is on a bare stage. As Lara, Shakira Clanton dances onto the space in an energetic dance performance. She holds out her arms and then wraps them around her shoulders. She strokes her arms. She skitters from side to side of the space. There are other movements that are part of the routine. It lasts about five minutes.

Then she goes behind the mirror and comes back around it putting on a jacket and tells us that she got a call from her youngest child Kyle and she tells us she flies home. As she narrates the story—the embracing of the kids, the search for Simon etc. she repeats all the movements of the dance but this time there is meaning. Her arms stretched our is Lara reaching for her children to hug them; stroking her arms is her stoking theirs. Skittering across the stage is the speed with which she begins her search for Simon. It is wonderful how choreographer Vicky Van Hout created a dance to interpret what writer Henrietta Baird was saying in words. Nick Wales and Ryan Clapham (Dobby) created a subtle percussive soundscape and score of beats and sounds that made the whole experience evocative of throbbing and a heart-beating,


Produced by Moogahlin Performing Arts, Sydney, Australia

Plays: Oct. 8, 2021.

Running time: 70 minutes.

Leave a Comment

Respectful comments are accepted on this site as long as they are accompanied by a verifiable name and a verifiable e-mail address. Posts that are slanderous, libelous or personally derogatory will not be approved.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Марина October 12, 2021 at 11:13 am

Squabbling siblings, familiar stereotypes and a chorus of amens: A new play aims for the pleasures of Broadway’s traditional family sitcoms. The daring Manhattan theater reopens this month with a gorgeous puppet festival, proving it has lost none of its nerve during the pandemic.