How much time do you spend online in a day?
Do you live there, more in the virtual world than in the real world? Would you give up a complicated, messy, painful life in the real world to live in a sanitized, predetermined, prepackaged virtual life? Lally Katz wants us to think about these things as we watch Another Twin, which is being presented by the Western Australian Youth Theatre Company (WAYTCo) and directed by Kirsty Hillhouse at UWA’s Dolphin Theatre.
This marks Kirsty Hillhouse’s debut as Artistic Director of WAYTCo and she brings with her a quarter-century of theatrical and performance experience, which has surely benefited this organization and will continue to do so in projects to come. Another Twin is an ambitious first outing: there is a cast of nearly twenty young actors, a big, strange story to string together, and original music and singing to incorporate. It is evident that her look into this dystopian world imagined by Katz has been creatively fruitful; she seems to use her own voice and her own artistic language without borrowing too much from the vast canon of easily recognizable dystopian and futurist tropes.
Katz has written this play for young people, and the show is populated with actors of the same age group that she is presumably targeting – 16-25 year-olds. There is a broad range of talent and skill in the cast and plenty of potential on display. As is often the case with young performers, a bit of self-consciousness crept into some performances, but clearly some are well on their way to realizing their potential as actors.
Some fine moments came from Verity Softly, as Amanda, an earthy, homeless woman with a bad foot; Madelaine Page as Linda, a determined soldier in god’s army who has a fixation on cockroaches; Kaycee Graham as Angela, the quirky nurse who gave us a fair dose of comic relief; and a lovely monologue was delivered by Catherine Bonny as Freida, a mournful pregnant soldier’s wife. Matt Young, as the Traveling Man, entered with a rousing jolt of energy midway through and made the most of his time on stage. He’s got presence, charm, and confidence, with just the right kind of vulnerability, assuring us we’re in good hands.
The show ran quite long and this is due in part to the fact that every scene required a reset. The pace suffered from too much time spent moving furniture and props on and off so that almost everything could be played center stage. This could have been alleviated by incorporating a few levels, or a better use of the whole stage space, for example playing one scene downstage while the previous scene is in black upstage. Also there were some unintentionally funny moments resulting from a few glaringly obtuse lines of dialogue. Perhaps a touch more irony and less sincerity in their delivery would have made these moments palatable, but these less experienced actors would need considerable guidance to find just the right tone.
The music by Late Night Shopping (Nikki Jones & Shaun Salmon) was different, quite enjoyable and, as an inner monologue device for each of the characters, added another dimension to the story. Lighting design by Joe Lui worked well with set and costume design by Lauren Ross, and the slick audiovisuals by Mia Halton.