State Theatre Company South Australia. Space Theatre. 14 Nov 2023
“Is it you creating you, or am I creating you?”
Vi’s (Erin James) ponderous querying of the growing new life in her womb succinctly sums up many conundrums with delightful humour. Here’s a remarkably wide eyed, sharp, fresh take on the baby thing in Anna Goldsworthy’s stage adaptation of her book Welcome To Your New Life.
Director Shannon Rush’s production is a beautifully balanced one.
Intricate interloping layers of childlike innocence and confused, deliciously droll adult awareness are expressed in deft child orientated playfulness by the cast of three exploring the journey to parenthood, and beyond.
The work has a beautiful, soothing rhythm, buoyed along by Composer/Musical Director Alan John’s perfect set of songs evoking those ting ding-a-ling style sounds and feels of babyhood. James’ proves the right voice for these songs.
Rush’s approach is solidly supported by Designer Simon Greer’s terrific oversize child’s playroom set, featuring gigantic white double doors and massive number and letter play blocks, as well as a light-halo doubling as a humongous crib mobile.
Speaking of the light-halo, Lighting Designer Gavin Norris deploys it with great effect in the design mix. Norris’ series of colour washes interspersed with crisp spot lighting enhances and reinforces the sense of living within a child’s play world in which grown up people things become games to play out. For starters, did you know birth pain is a social construct? Truly!
Matt Crook and Kathryn (Kitty) Adams provide absolutely smashing support to James, playing numerous character vignettes which tease the funny bone as much as they prompt more serious introspection.
Crook as father to be Nicholas pairs with James brilliantly. Together, they successfully evoke the wonder and worry of new life to be. They do so in such a way there’s always a sense behind the performance of two kids playing Mummy and Daddy. This adds extra gravitas and comedy combined to the most outlandish and serious things they consider and fret over. In these moments, Adams offers pitch perfect punch lines. “You’re too happy to be in labour” was a crowd pleaser.
In some magical way, Welcome To Your New Life manages to talk about birth, motherhood and parenting in a completely new way. This achievement owes as much to Goldsworthy’s deeply honest, vulnerable writing as it does to a cast who manage to make it all seem so suddenly now in the moment.
When: 10 to 25 Nov
Where: Space Theatre