Extinction (Hannie Rayson)
State Theatre of W.A.
reviewed by Sophie Saxe-Lehrman
Too infrequently, a new play is mounted which has the seemingly effortless ability to draw the viewer – in the most meaningful way – into the world created by the dramatist.
This was very much the case with Stuart Halusz’s sure and sensitive directorial touch and a cast of four who brought Hannie Rayson’s play to consistently convincing life ie apart from a curious feature: siblings whose accents were so strikingly different that they sounded as if from utterly different families, utterly different countries for that matter.
This curious dichotomy aside, on-stage conversations were invariably engrossing – and one sensed also a total absorption by the audience into Rayson’s idiosyncratic theatre-world.
Central to the play is the fate of a seriously endangered mammal – the quoll – which serves as the focal point for much of Act 1. One of these rare creatures has been injured in a road accident and has been brought to a veterinary clinic – and is being looked after by a veterinary nurse. The injured animal has been brought in by the driver of the car which caused the injuries. By a curious co-incidence, he is a senior executive of a mining corporation which plans to start digging in areas where the quoll is at its most vulnerable.
Rayson has a good ear for conversation; her lines draw one almost at once into an intriguing mood-world. It is rather like eavesdropping on private conversations – and fascinating ones to boot. Of course, even the best lines can be a turn-off if they’re delivered indifferently. But on this crucial count, the cast scored impressively.
Not the least of the pleasures of this production is its seamless continuity with both actors and stage personnel soundlessly and rapidly moving props around and on or off a darkened stage. And lighting design is one of the production’s best features, subtly underscoring mood and drawing the viewer into the unfolding story.
It was a pleasure to experience stage craft of such high order