Thursday, November 22, 2018

Love at Eternity

Love by Patricia Cornelius.  Darlinghurst Theatre Company at Eternity Theatre, Sydney, November 17 – December 9, 2018.

Director – Rachel Chant; Production Designer – Ella Butler; Assistant Director – Hannah Goodwin; Lighting Designer – Sian James-Holland; Composer & Sound Designer – Nate Edmondson.

Performed by Rose Riley (Annie); Anna Samson (Tanya); Hoa Xuande (Lorenzo.

Reviewed by Frank McKone
November 21 (opening night)

In 75 minutes of intense dialogue, among three often inarticulate characters, is uncomfortable to watch.  That’s Patrica Cornelius’ intention. 

Between words, and scene changes made by merely moving to different positions along a straight-line left to right rostrum, the characters’ feelings towards each other become concentrated in a remarkable scripting of urban poor life.  For the playwright, and ultimately for us watching, the play is a study of the expectations and failures of love.

For the characters, each created so effectively – showing not only Riley’s, Samson’s and Xuande’s skills, but sure-footed detailed directing down to millisecond changes in mood and realisation of others’ intention – love is a necessity, an obsession, and a curse.

Young woman Annie, “been fucking since I was nine”, has only one way to support herself financially.  At sixteen going on nineteen, as the play progresses, how does this happen? 

Tanya, transexual identifying female, supports herself mainly by robbery, spending short periods in jail.  Claims to love Annie, and helps her by “managing” her work.

While Tanya is in jail, Lorenzo sees an opportunity to take over managing Annie, and persuades her that he loves her too.

The result is a bitter three-way contest pulling apart the naive and essentially romantic Annie, who wants her life to be different – except that they are all bound by failed education, failed family upbringing, and the need to survive in poverty.

For me the play stopped being a “study” of love, but became an indictment of a society which sets up such destruction of people’s natural capacity and need for love.

Glenn Terry, artistic director of the non-profit Darlinghurst Theatre Company, writes of Patricia Cornelius “Her opus of work is a fearless investigation of our world and Australian society.  Cornelius’ plays are not usually programmed by professional [ie the major] companies and through professionally staging Love I wanted to give this excellent play the attention Cornelius’ work deserves.”

This production achieves just that.