Adelaide Fringe 2012
Four women recollect the events of one hot, sweaty day. Each perspective sheds new light on the horrific event that sets in motion an investigation and opens up a mystery from the past connecting four very different individuals. A female police officer, an entrepreneurial abortion nurse, a woman who lives as a man, and a young ‘lost girl’ are thrown into a scandal but none of them realise the connections and knowledge they possess that make this play an intriguing and complex story.
An undercover female police officer (the Good Femme) relates her story, alternating between trepidation and empowerment—she narrates her experience investigating an Old Femme rumoured to perform illegal abortions in the privacy of an ominous little room behind her workshop. The Old Femme then steps in to explain her actions and justify her reasoning for helping young girls with problems. Enter the Man Femme, who eagerly tells the audience about his girl, and details the events of his day, which starts out jubilantly but becomes progressively ominous and melancholic. Finally, the Pretty Femme gives a raw insight into her grim life and the lives of the other lost girls she lives with. By now the story is almost complete and the only question that remains is the fate of all these Femmes in light of their moral dilemmas and quandaries.
The script is an interesting mix of sentiment, narration and soliloquies. The dialogues of the Good Femme and Old Femme succeeded to some extent with the establishment and development of their characters. It was difficult to get a grasp on their stance; however, H. Clare Callow and Erin Dewar who played the roles of the Man Femme and Pretty Femme, respectively, gave strong performances that were very well received. The audience was quick to react to their quips and jibes, and their performances took the play to new heights with interesting twists and turns until the climax at the end.
The set was minimal, reflecting the poverty and scarce resources of the slum. The props were essential tools, and highlighted parts of the story as they passed hands, and symbolised the links between the Femmes. The lighting and direction was well-coordinated and effectively established and changed scenes as required. The actors gave remarkable, believable performances bringing their own interpretations to each character.
Shadows of Angels is a dark, haunting play that depicts the Femme Fatale in four very different characters, contrary to how popular culture portrays them. These are real women with intense personalities who do what they can to make the best of their gritty lifestyles. They have real tribulations and obstacles to overcome—for them crime is the only way they can survive in the harsh conditions, but there is a frailness and vulnerable quality in all of these women, which makes this play a must-see at this year’s Adelaide Fringe Festival.