Harbinger Small

Brink Productions - Space Theatre

The beauty of assembling a stellar cast is that it doesn’t matter how good or bad the writing is the actors will always carry the piece. All the more beautiful is when Brink productions not only assemble the perfect cast, but develop a perfect piece of writing as their accompaniment.

In their latest production Harbinger, Madeline or Maddy is the central character and as outlined in the synopsis (without spoiling the plot) is discovered by Christopher, in a pool of her own blood lying in the street after dark. Christopher soon discovers that Maddy has fits – and very quickly comes to the conclusion that she has in fact been attacked by a vampire.
The scenes which follow include a beautifully developing relationship between Maddy and Chris, both of whom face a myriad of their own conflicts which suspend their ability to interact and make for awkward yet humorous moments between them.

Christopher – a nearly 30 year old nerd, has a secret of his own – a secret which you will only discover by seeing the show. All the way through the production the perfect plot structure takes us from a wonderful contextual opening, through conflict to some beautiful reveals, which keep the audience guessing as to the direction of the story. Right up until the closing scene, the audience still doesn’t understand why, how, or what is going on. The turning point comes in a beautiful monologue from Maddy, which is slightly cryptic, and takes some consideration to uncover its meaning.

Playwright Matthew Whittet comes close to breaking one of the 10 commandments of scriptwriting at the turning point of this new work, to tell you what that is might reveal too much, but thankfully everything preceding it is so skillfully constructed and carefully worded that this could be forgiven. Ending the play with a neat little book end the production comes full circle, setting up Maddy’s afternoon and the hours leading up to the fateful incident that brings her and Christopher together.

In the lead role of Maddy, Yael Stone shines. The scenes in which she fits show great control over her body and physicality and the depth of understanding of her characters needs is evident from beginning to end. Nathan O’Keefe in the role of Chris gives a measured, considerate, kindhearted and thoughtful performance which is both endearing and loving. As Christopher, O’Keeffe is nothing short of amazing – something which Adelaide audiences now come to expect from this fine actor. In the role of John, Alex Menglet was supportive and suitably evil, establishing the premise for the story nicely.

The set consists of a very long, thin stage spanning the width of the Space Theatre. It is simply set with prop items all which served purpose. This is effective and supports the objective. The lighting design by David Gadsden cleverly moves the production from scene to scene and aids in technical development and character advancement. No qualms are made about including crew in the movement of the show. Crew members cross the stage at various points throughout the play, interacting with the actors to aid in scene changes and create effects which heighten the emotion and experiences of the characters.

The production lasting just over an hour and half without interval, continually challenged the audience and never lost focus. The time flew by and everyone left the theatre wanting more from these great performers. A world premiere for both Brink and Matthew Whittet, this production is sure to be a great success.

Paul Rodda

2 Sept 2010