Deus Ex Femina. Matthew Flinders Theatre – Flinders University. 27 Sep 2023
The title says it, doesn’t it? We immediately conjure all the things we didn’t say. To our lovers, our life partners, our parents, our friends, even ourselves. With regret, perhaps we suffered while we procrastinated in saying, or the other is now gone to God - or just Melbourne - and now beyond reach. But this is not a show about what didn’t happen from not saying, but what if we make it happen.
This season of All The Things I Couldn’t Say is Deus Ex Femina’s second bite of the cherry. The inaugural production was well-received in the 2022 Adelaide Fringe and the troupe earned the Adelaide Festival Centre’s InSpace Fringe Award, which translates into development funding. Lead writer/story & director Katherine Sortini has fashioned her script and conceptual design on the snippets of unsaid opportunities submitted to www.theunsentproject.com and like those submissions, Sortini focusses her scenarios on lovers and close friends.
The actors perform with barely any accoutrements save the skills of lighting designer Mark Oakley, lightning design realiser Nic Mollison, sound designer Sascha Budimski and design consultant Kathryn Sproul. There are boatloads of brilliance in a sea of low budget. Each scene is pre-ambled with the relevant inspirational unsent project contribution, looming large in a projected paragraph. Performers Arran Beattie, Caithlin O’Loghlen, Kate Bonney, Zola Allen, Eddie Morrison and Tumelo Nthupi tag-team the satisfactory to sublime vignettes of intimate encounters where the unsaid is sensitively scripted and imagined. The performances burst with the intensity and spontaneity - the risk-taking and danger - of Theatre-sports.
We all identify with this stuff - obfuscation, heart-to-hearts, SMS conversations where life-changing information is offered then erased before sending. Sortini has given the actors much of the creative input to building characters we are, or know of. Most fetching for me was one unseen lonely voice seeking solace with a Phone Sex Chat girl. His desperation was lovingly reflected in the girl’s grimaced empathy which was performed onstage; the whole shebang resembling a Samuel Beckett play. Sortini chose as a linking theme an unbearable declaration of falling out of love which is replayed with various versions of ugly and rancorous outcomes until a nice one finishes off the evening. Curiously, the actors-in-waiting - seated just offstage when off duty – are seen furiously working their mobile phones, which made me think; if they aren’t watching the show, why should I?
All The Things I Couldn’t Say does not comprise the scope of inter-generational unsaids as I opined in my opening paragraph; it focuses on Millennials, as I suppose the unsent project does by default of its submissions. It’s very sweet to witness the raw emotions revealed in the struggles with what’s the right thing to say and it is thought-provoking for one’s own unsaids.
When: 26 Sep to 1 Oct
Where: Matthew Flinders Theatre