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Theatre: Four Sides to a Story

Tue 19 Sep 2006 In: Performance

Alleluya Bar and Café, Sunday, 17 September In the Shape of a Square is a new, experimental theatre company, whose work is largely to be GLBT-themed. John Humphries, one of the founding forces behind this venture, and the director of their opening production, “Four Sides to a Story”, the first in what they call “[id/07], the season of identity”, has devised a site-specific production - here featuring three young actors in an intense and moving work around transgender issues. Lucy, Jimmy and Kane are the doppelgangers of the actors themselves – Sarah Gallagher, Ora Simpson and Hayley Dallimore. Each actor wrote another actor's part, all claming in the programme to have found such an exercise “liberating” “thought provoking” and “bathing in it”. And truly, the effect is riveting, even though the action is static. The actors sit on stools facing the audience most of the time, each monologue seldom turning into any sort of exchange. Except for the excellence of the writing, this could've been a minefield out of which there might have been no escape. It says a lot about the storyline that audience attention was entirely focused despite the distractions inherent in the venue. The Alleluya Café can hardly be effectively screened off from the street noise of K' road and the human traffic passing through the arcade; that said, the intimacy of the performing area was such that a couple of piercing screams from the cast were almost too much. Hayley Dallimore, as 'Kane', has to wait a long time – through courtship and marriage – to make her 'entrance; but when she does, it's explosive. As the sex-changed alterego of Sarah Gallagher's 'Lucy' after the latter abandons her unsatisfactory but loving relationship with 'Jimmy' (Ora Simpson), a good kiwi bloke whose ability to comprehend his erstwhile bride's reluctance to bear children, among other accepted norms of a marriage, is nonexistent, Dallimore give an extraordinary performance, showcasing an unusual talent. As 'Jimmy', Simpson lacks nuance, but it's a one-dimensional role and I must say he wasn't given a lot to work with. And, finally, as 'Lucy' Sarah Gallagher had the biggest challenge – the most lines, the central part, all that. She rose to it, but I think if this play were to run a while, she would do less overacting and her contribution would feel more natural. FOUR SIDES TO A STORY - Two extra performances Friday 29   

Credit: Larry Jenkins

First published: Tuesday, 19th September 2006 - 12:00pm

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