Songs About Girls & Their Finger Tips

You’re Dreaming (Alexis West). 2012 Feast Festival. The Bakehouse Theatre. 15 Nov 2012.

Songs About Girls and Their Finger Tips is a play about two lesbians starting their intimate relationship; its development; and its wash up. The two women are trying to make a shared sense out of their separate inner and outer realities. It is a finely etched study about a relationship that comes unstuck.

Rach (Ruth Fallon) and Kara (Nazarre Dickerson) physically bump into each other in the change room at a suburban swimming pool. They start dating. The sex is good. They fall in love. Their relationship disintegrates for reasons that are more than surface deep.

Michele Saint-Yves, the Writer and Director has developed, over several years, an important Australian one act play (inspired by the short story of the same name by Sonya Dechian which was read at Feast 2002). A particularly sensitive script - part dialogue, part incisive character study, part Brechtian with characters addressing the audience - it is never indulgent or crass. The play walks a fine line between sexual innuendo (‘roots for dinner . . . I like my roots with no nuts’); cliché sayings (‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’); and seriously provocative relationship issues. Saint-Yves has directed her script with similar sensitivity. The writer/director relationship has worked to the advantage of this production.

Nazaree Dickerson and Ruth Fallon (both acting graduates of Adelaide Centre for the Arts) as Kara and Rach respectively, are two strong performers who carefully bring the action to the boil and successfully reveal two very different characters during the show’s sixty minute running time. Dickerson presents Kara, the visual artist who lives her life organically and initially adores Rach for her strength and focus, but comes to another realisation as time moves on. Fallon presents Rach, the government department child protection worker, as a much more controlling woman who has problems being adored by Kara and who is unable just to ‘be’ with Kara moment by moment.

The third actor is not an actor at all, but she carries a large part of the success of this fine production. Michaela Burger, an accomplished composer and musician, performs her on stage musical soundtrack and we, the audience, are the beneficiaries of a collection of songs and musical interludes that bear a direct relationship to the development of the action, and which are intrinsic to the dramatic atmosphere of this staging. Burger’s compositions are dazzlingly beautiful to listen to.

Wendy Todd, the Set and Costume Designer, presents a set that is multi-functional. It is part swimming pool change room; part bedroom; part sauna; part hospital ward. These diverse elements are blended into an abstract space that is as complex as it appears simple. The crazy paving slate floor is never at odds with the several aquarium type clear rectangular glass containers suspended throughout the performance space. The set could easily double as a sophisticated chat room with Burger singing or playing guitar or double bass to one side of the convivial space.

Sue Grey-Gardner’s Lighting Design uses a small palette of lighting effects very wisely and this adds mightily to the crispness and visual focus of the stage images. Even small lighting changes become significant mood enhancers. The ever present Adelaide off stage whiz, Jeanne Hurrell is Stage Manager and Sound Designer. Carolyn lloyd is Production Manager.

It would be remiss not to mention the elegantly designed fold out theatre program that reveals the community of people and organisations who have banded together to make this production possible.

Songs About Girls & Their Finger Tips is a clear window into the pleasures, pitfalls, and fragility of developing a relationship. It is gripping theatre and intensely personal. A strong standard bearer for the Feast Festival.

Martin Christmas
When: 14 to 17 Nov
Where: Bakehouse Theatre
Bookings: feast.org.au/tickets/feastix.aspx