The Split

The Split House of Sand 2019House of Sand, Rumpus Theatre. 23 Oct 2019


In calm waters, drifting gently around at anchor, Jules and Tom while away the hours. They have something to resolve. It is not quite clear what.

They have an established relationship. Like siblings, they have ritual games. They have whiskey, champagne, mandarins and Kwells. Day turns into night and then on to day. Kobe Donaldson's lighting changes of dusk and dawn are gorgeous on the sleek white stage against a nice rippling water background projection. He depicts time which is passing swiftly. To begin with.


The play's opening has a feeling of beauty and serenity. The boat’s shape is loosely suggested by the layout of various props.  Tom is idly plucking tunes on his guitar; Jules is intent on her sketch pad. When the characters begin to speak it is lively small talk, streams of consciousness, word and sound games. They are interesting individuals and between playwright Sarah Hamilton’s script and Charley Sanders’ direction, there is an artful sense of privacy in the little boat world and, with it, a sense of intimacy and even voyeurism for the audience. 


There are some brilliant moments, especially when the pair zoom around on casters to simulate swimming in the sea. It is joyful and very effective and just one of the elements which works superbly in this theatre artwork.


After a while, the lighting dims to uncertain muted hues and time becomes murky as the mood changes in the boat.  There are stresses and long, long periods of silence. And into the dim hours on the water, time starts to stand still. Too still. The momentum slackens and there is the sense that the boat is going nowhere and nor is the play. Here is where the rewrite or the blue pencil should come in. The script and the two splendid actors, Max Garcia-Underwood and Amy Victoria Brooks, reclaim the tension and the play reaches an interesting, if slightly puzzling denouement.


 It is clear that Sarah Hamilton is a writer of great promise.  


And, there is the Charley Sanders factor. The zing and zeal of this spirited theatre-maker continues to breathe life onto the Adelaide stage.


The new theatre venue, Rumpus, is a magical community achievement. It is a wild and roomy warehouse world amid the factory chimneys of Bowden. It is spruced up and fresh and fun, abeit on warm nights audiences may be advised to take a fan into the theatre itself.

And if the The Split opening night audience is anything to go by, there is a glamorous independent theatre demographic hungry for challenge and intrigue in the theatre. Certainly, they were enthusiastically appreciative of the austerity and the experimental nature of this particular new theatre work.  


Samela Harris


When: 22 Oct to 3 Nov

Where: Rumpus, The Old 505 Theatre, 100 Sixth Street Bowden.