03 July 2015

Mini review: Love, Sarah

Love, Sarah
Panopticon Collective
1 July 1015
Scratch Warehouse
to 5 July

Love, Sarah. Photo by Shannon Ly Photography

Another day, another new independent theatre company in Melbourne performing in an amazing warehouse venue that I have to trust my GPS to get me to.

Panopticon Collective focuses on new Australian work and was founded by University of Ballarat Arts Academy graduates Jeni Bezuidenhout and Sebastian Bertoli. They invited Kathryn Goldie (Love Triangle, 1919, Short + Sweet, Baggage Productions) to write their first work.

Love, Sarah is about Sarah and her grandmother (Bezuidenhout and Penelope Langmead) and the realtionship between the generations who love each other but know that age creates distance, misunderstanding and separation. Told through flashbacks and Sarah's travel postcards to her Nan, it's a gentle story that creeps up on you with heartfelt performances and the hope that the conclusion isn't inevitable.

Goldie's writing is at its best in her creation of complex characters that welcome actors to bring themselves to the roles, and in creating honest and real relationships between her characters. It's ultimately Sarah's story, but it's about how her relationship with Nan is a part of her, and it leaves space for the audience to think about their own grandparents. (I'd like to see a bit more conflict though to add a couple more questions.)

Bertoli's direction is at its best in supporting the actors to create that relationship on the stage, but could benefit from looking at the work as a whole, especially in how design, music and blocking can work together to tell the story rather than just support the story.

New companies come and go in Melbourne. Early productions are about finding voices and finding the audience that the company speaks to. And the only to discover new companies is to see their work.

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