theatre review: where i end and you begin
Where I End and You Begin, the debut full length play by writer Cathy Petocz, had its world premiere last Saturday night at Canberra’s The Street Theatre. Directed by current Street Theatre Artistic Director/CEO, Caroline Stacey, the production is a lively and engaging piece of theatre that explores ideas of identity, love, relationships and the constant search for a ‘self’ — either a personal ‘self’ or someone else.
Polly (Kate Hosking) and Whatisname (Raoul Craemer) are Private Investigators, working light years apart on two not-so-separate cases: Polly is helping a client with the curious problem of sudden mental blanks, whilst Whatisname is tracking a missing woman through outer space. Hosking and Craemer are supported by a talented cast made up of Kabu Okai-Davies, Ylaria Rogers and Dylan Van Den Berg. Written as two separate plays running parallel down the page, the action takes place on a traverse stage with the audience on both sides, and the plays run simultaneously, seamlessly weaving in and out of one another. As the two worlds slowly begin to collide, things get even crazier and the ride is wild.
Director Caroline Stacey works wonders on this complex production and it is her creative vision that has transformed it from the original manuscript into a fully formed and impressive piece of theatre. Developed with the assistance of $35,000 ArtsACT grant, which has been more than matched by The Street Theatre, and developed over four years through The Street’s The Hive and First Seen programs, Where I End and You Begin is an example of the exciting outcomes such investment in local talent can produce.
Considering this is Petocz’s first full length play, the production is very ambitious and it is pulled off well. The dialogue is beautifully written, the characters are excessive yet multi-faceted- Polly, in particular is fabulous- and Petocz’s use of repetition is highly effective and emphasized by Sound Designer Kimmo Vennonen’s clever use of pre-recorded vocals. Vennonen’s good work is complemented by great effects from Lighting Designer Gillian Schwab. The set, designed by Scenic Designer Imogen Keen is wonderfully weird with creative use of cheap (junk) materials, although a warning to hay fever sufferers who may be particularly sensitive this time of year: be sure to dose up on the antihistamines as the stage ‘sheds’. This should, however, not be a deterrent, as the shedding is very effective, the fibres clinging to the actors and evoking the feel of a world that is falling apart.
Given the unexpected nature of the production, it may take a while to get into the swing of things however once you know what to expect (or what not to expect) it doesn’t become any less bewildering, but it does become utterly enthralling. There were a few small hiccups, such as a curious use of masks that could have been more effective. Additionally, whilst it is great to juxtapose sentimentality, or seriousness with humour, sometimes the play skated too quickly towards the humourous bits, leaving some beautiful moments obscured in a cloud of space dust without allowing them to be fully appreciated.
Where I End and You Begin is highly recommended. If you have an open mind and love to be challenged, awed and bewildered in the best way possible, this is for you. If you’re not sure- go along anyway, support some incredible local talent and enjoy the ride.
Where I End and You Begin is showing at The Street Theatre until October 26. Tickets are $35 and available online.