Adelaide Fringe 2012
Billy, a young up and coming bubbly actress has waited her whole life to find her real mother, Anne. However, the two have very strong personalities and often clash over opinions and ideas. Billy is a 21st century woman who feels she has achieved a balanced life with her career and desire for a family. Anne on the other hand is stubborn feminist who has never wanted a family and hides her past mistakes under a cool and collected façade. Both characters break each other down and the final twist in the plot takes this play in a new direction and at a new level.
The story starts with a lyrical soliloquy by Billy (played by Anna Cheney) that sets the scene and provides an insight into what it is about. When the play starts, the differences in characters and personalities is palpable—Billy wants to know everything about Anne’s (Chrissie Page) past, but Anne deflects her questions and hides the truth for as long as possible. They make small talk and exchange awkward pleasantries at first, but Billy’s persistence pays off and slowly the story is revealed. The story twists and turns through darkness and light, the characters become stronger and battle each other as they desperately seek control over the other and their emotions. As the story climaxes to what seems to be a satisfying, happy ending, the final twist in the tale is revealed, leaving the audience gasping and leaning forward to learn more.
This is an extremely sophisticated, complex dialogue and story that is played out between two women of different generations and personalities. The performances were stupendous and engaging. The characters, although at extreme ends of the spectrum, were relatable and as a result, likeable for different reasons. They are humorous, passionate, confident women who break each other down as they find each other’s weak spots. The characters encompass all aspects of what it is to be a woman and the choices women make. The story is poignant, intense, and engaging, but it is really the twist at the end that hooks and drags you into their world.
Page and Cheney give tangible performances and toy with the audience’s minds and expectations. They worked in harmony, reacting and responding to each other as any mother and daughter would. Both developed their characters with ease and finesse that was barely perceptible, but the changes in character evident. The set was minimal, but reflected the emptiness in Billy and Anne’s life that they later filled with larger than life performances. The lighting was used effectively to highlight the nostalgia and trances, softening each character and exposing their vulnerability.
This was an exceptional play and words cannot do it justice. Theatre of this kind is rare—the audience left speechless, and in awe of the powerful performances and astounding spectacle they just witnessed.