The Jar Collector tells three stories of the difficulties of mothers either before, during or after childbirth. Some aspects of the play work better than others.
Directed and written by Davina Wright, dialogue is delivered by Cazz Bainbridge and another actor unnamed in the programme. Ross De Winter plays silent male characters. At times the piece suffers from having costume changes or action occuring on one part of the stage while the two female voices are separated elsewhere. I found that these, and other scenes, split my attention in too many directions. There was also a tendency in some scenes to direct the audience towards a particular emotional response rather than leave us to form our own response. Tellingly, the moments of poignancy that were achieved avoided both of these features.
There were notable positives to the performance. Prosthetic bellies from Owen Philips’s costume design effectively marked differences between the different pregnancies. Bainbridge and the mystery actor had moments where they spoke with an appealing, laconic and modern Australian voice. Some lines effectively captured the way in which family can prefer to busy themselves with ritual, ignoring awkward events. Conduit Arts wasn’t on my radar until now, and as an intimate multi-use space I will be interested to see what else they offer.