The Flood – Canberra Season

The Flood“The sheep farm is now dilapidated. The farm house, dark and squalid, still sits by the river. The memories are seeping through the floorboards. As the sun sets, the flood waters rise and three women are trapped in the house…” So goes the press release for this show.

The opening image of this play is both powerful and wonderfully messy – an older lady of untellable age cutting and pasting sitting in a room that is mostly a jumble of old newspapers and magazines..echos of time passed, the detritus of a life maybe not fully lived. The “walls” of the room transparent, suggesting the insufficiency of their safety – from the weather, the looming landscape, or from anything else. And into this chaos come her daughters – the first, estranged having been away for over twenty years and refugee from the weather, and the second who seems to thrive on the hostility and dilapidation of the house.

I was attracted to the show, not only by the credentials of the creative team, but by the title The Flood –curious about how artists are using the increasing amount of extreme weather forces as symbolic forces in the psychological landscape of characters. These characters are psychologically trapped- by their bonds to each other and emotional ti(d)es; and trapped literally in the house, by the rising river and increasing rain.

I was a little confused about the references in the program to gothic literature though. In all honesty it felt to me to be a little more like a “who-dunnit”, which I was only a little disappointed by. There were touches of the ‘gothic’ such as a story about the “oleander man” and hints about the spookiness of remote living – the phone is disconnected and we even got some spooky gate creaking and a door opening of its own accord (clumsily executed on this night) – but the whole thing ends so neatly and abruptly – the rain stops, it’s a new day, and the sisters resolve to clean up and move forward from their collective and individual torment after a night of revelation – that I was left a little cold.

The interesting characters, riveting and beautifully played by Maude Davey, Caroline Lee, and Shirley Cattunar, were affected in their own ways by the memory and legacy of a very uninteresting man. There’s a little bit of ‘blame the weak mother angst’ that appears in the text, (that usually makes me cringe and should rightly bring up many a debate about parental and social responsibility in abusive relationships), but for all that I still enjoyed my night at the theatre.

The Street Theatre’s Street 2 studio space is a wonderful and intimate performance space, transformed every time I see a show in there, and perfect for this current tour supported by Critical Stages.

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