The Yellow Wallpaper

Even for someone with an unconditional fondness for the colour yellow, this mesmerising adaptation of The Yellow Wallpaper coerces its audience to rethink and look twice. Presented by Movementworks in collaboration with Act Belong Commit for the first time, the performance is stimulating and intrinsic. 

Presented by: Movementworks and Act Belong Commit Venue: The Blue Room Theatre, Perth
Thursday, 18 August, 2011
The Yellow WallpaperEven for someone with an unconditional fondness for the colour yellow, this mesmerising adaptation of The Yellow Wallpaper coerces its audience to rethink and look twice. Presented by Movementworks in collaboration with Act Belong Commit for the first time, the performance is stimulating and intrinsic. 
Unhinged at the inability to hold her child and starved of inspiration, hysterical Charlotte is prescribed a ‘rest treatment’ by her husband John and confined to a nursery at the top of the stairs for the course of the summer of 1892. She is left alone with arsenic-based yellow wallpaper riddled with impenetrable patterns and grotesque secrets. Her intoxicating inner journey drums on the heartstrings of its audience; it’s a unique and fresh exploration into mental illness and the thematic concerns of patriarchy.
Adapted from Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s original short story by Silvia Lehmann and director Teresa Izzard, the dialogue can only be described as rich and real. Building on this unyielding foundation, protagonist Charlotte is inventively portrayed as two separate beings by Jo Morris and Sarah Nelson. The duo move with no wasted motion and their combined performance is chemical. Sean Walsh as John provides an effective split-focus and the intrusion of reality on Charlotte’s internal drama. Succeeding in increasing the dimension of the play, Jo Morris (pictured) commands the space she moves in with notable ease and passion.
Alone, the lighting is average and the set simple. However, the marriage of these two technical aspects by Laura Heffernan and Karen Cook, set and lighting designers respectively, produces hidden intricacies and a unique depth. The use of the set is innovative, complementing the script poetically. The wallpaper itself is a character, with a whimsical changeability to personify Charlotte’s eroding condition. The audience can’t help but be engulfed by Charlotte’s preoccupation with this wallpaper.
Heffernan’s deliberate use of simple drama blacks for the majority of the costumes clashes fantastically with the vivid wallpaper. Background sound is delicately atmospheric and wisely sparing, allowing the dynamic union of lighting and set to be recognised as the technical genius. Prolonged pauses punctuate the dialogue to support and illustrate movement. Jo Morris and Sarah Nelson’s embracement of stylistic physicality forms a symbiotic relationship with the set and breathes it to life.  
The Yellow Wallpaper gives new direction to old themes and leaves an eerie lasting impression, particularly on the colour yellow. Characterisation is complete and intimate, and every other dramatic element functions with the perfect synchronisation of a well-oiled machine from start to finish. Though abrupt, the abstract conclusion where the two Charlottes reunite in insanity to form a gothic monster is in no way confusing or unbelievable. Instead, the corporeal merging of the two Charlottes is a hugely satisfying, if alarming ending. 
Bookings: www.blueroom.org.au / (08) 9227 7005Season: Thursday 18 August – Saturday 3 September 2011  Photo by Christopher Nixon 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *