Sunday, 17 August 2014

Gifts - Hayman Theatre Company (17 August 2014)

It seems that God has been on the mind of university drama students this week. Hot on the heels of Back to Eden out at Murdoch comes Gifts, the first production of tonight’s Sunday Night Theatre offering at Curtin University.

I apologise in advance for the generic mention of performers as there was no programme with actor names assigned to roles.

However, here God is ‘the beginning’ and portrayed in lively fashion as a glam rock ‘n’ roll star who has grown bored of his own existence. What is one to do but to create a new plaything, give it a head, two arms, two legs, eyes, the power of speech and, in perhaps an error he will come to rue, a brain. I give you Man.

Man immediately demands freedom (and the ability to dance) quickly followed by a Wife. God decides that the Wife shall bear Man’s children, a decision she isn’t exactly wild about but, God being God, he gets his way. A child soon arrives with three more to follow in quick succession with thumb-sucking intensity. They too will eventually demand their freedom as unruly teenagers rebelling against their parents. God introduces happiness to quell the unrest.

What I like about a lot of Curtin productions is that they contain a range of performance styles – dance, movement and song are integral parts of this play. There is the use of classic pop tunes – David Bowie’s Life on Mars as God creates Man, and the play ends with The Beatles’ Golden Slumbers. A highlight, however, is the live performance of Queen’s We Will Rock You as the four performers playing (by now) disaffected teenagers harangue the Man and Wife while a bemused God looks on (and provides the iconic beat).

There is also a lovely use of a simple white sheet with a slit down the middle where, in order, Man’s, above him Wife’s, then God’s head only appear as they debate what has been wrought. It was nicely done. The costume and hairstyle for God would have made Marc Bolan proud.  

This was a short, tongue in cheek production that was amusing and energetic. Directed by Emelia Peet and written by Joanna Hempel, it starred Kharla Fannon, Tristan McInnes, Chris McIntosh, Keliesha O’Breza, Kane Parker, Ashleigh Ryan, and Aaron Smith.

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