06 May 2014

Review: Knives in Hens

Knives in Hens
1 May 2014
MUST Theatre at Monash University
to 10 May

Photo by Debbie Yew

Each time I see something created my MUST (Monash University Student Theatre), I tell myself that I must see more of what they do. So many ex-MUSTers are making their mark in Melbourne's independent and professional theatres that it's so worth going back to the source and seeing the artists who are going to be getting our attention very soon.

And with the Bachelor of Performing Arts getting a kick in the guts at Monash University, MUST is the only way for some students to get practical experience. I just have to think how much I learnt in my student theatre days to remember the importance of university-supported/funded student theatre.

Knives in Hens by Scottish writer David Harrower was first performed in 1997 in the UK and has since become one of the most performed Scottish plays. It was last seen in Melbourne in 2009 in a production, by Malthouse and State Theatre of South Australian, that I think ultimately let the script down by focussing on design and performance. (Here's my review but the best discussion happened on Theatre Notes.)

Directed by Yvonne Virsik, this production approaches the script with a delicate hand and an understanding that shows why it's so loved. By ensuring that its deceptively simple story (a love triangle in village not far from industrial change) drives the action, the poetry of its dense language is accessible. With story being clear, the audience are free to listen to the language and find their own meaning in its layers.

Yvonne continues to get beautiful performances out of young actors (Emily O'Conner, Edan Goodall and Jonny Dutaillis) and guides the students in the creation of a work that reflects their experience and interpretation of this play.

Monash Uni is out at Clayton, but it's not a long drive and there's plenty of parking. Or there's a bus to the door. The tickets are affordable and you will see excellent theatre.

PS. I didn't write about the last MUST show, Psychopomp and Drench, but its was stunning.

Next up at MUST is The Government Inspector (15–24 May).

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