Wednesday, November 14, 2012

BARE WITNESS

Written by Mauri Lourey
Directed by Nadja Kostich
The Street Theatre 6th - 10th November

Review by Len Power





The world of photo-journalists in war zones is a good idea for a play.  We can find out who these people are and why they do what they do often at great personal cost, physically and mentally.

Mauri Lourey’s play, ‘Bare Witness’, is primarily the story of one individual, Dannie, who struggles to make sense of her life through her memories of experiences while working as a photojournalist.  Recalling eleven of her photographs, which are described but not actually shown, she relives those moments and events and remembers others who were part of the story at the time.  Those memories build a picture of the impact her work has had on her, personally, and the insight she has gained about herself, for better or worse.

Nadja Kostich, the director, has staged a visually clever and very physical production.  The set design by Marg Horwell dispenses with the wings in the theatre, so there are stark walls instead of curtains.  The atmospheric lighting design by Emma Valente is highly original with banks of neon tubes on one side of the stage casting unusual lighting effects at various moments in the play.  This is complemented by portable lights which are picked up and used by the actors in creative and interesting ways.  Video design by Michael Carmody is quite haunting at times and in harmony with the other technical aspects.

Music was composed and played onstage by Kristin Rule on cello.  Her music was particularly effective in underlining the action throughout the play, creating and sustaining various moods.

As Danii, Daniela Farinacci gave a heartfelt and very believable performance of a woman struggling to make sense of her past.  Eugenia Fragos was also very effective as another photojournalist, Violetta.  The men in the company, Adam McConvell, Todd MacDonald and Ray Chong Nee, gave strong performances but their roles seemed not as sharply defined as those of the two women.  All cast members met the physical and emotional demands of the production very well.

While the production is visually exciting with good performances, the detail of the play was often obscure.  It was hard to know at times where you were and what was happening.  Maybe this wasn’t meant to be as important as the ideas the play was presenting, but it made it difficult to feel any real concern for Danii’s mental turmoil.  I wasn’t drawn into this play and I felt I should be.

The world of photojournalism is a good subject for a play, but in spite of a very original style of production and committed performances by the cast, ‘Bare Witness’ was ultimately a cold and unmoving experience.

Originally broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 ‘Dress Circle’ program on Sunday 11 November 2012

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