COLDER - MELBOURNE
COLDER, Red Stitch Actors Theatre, St Kilda. 13 March-8 April 2018. Photography by Teresa Noble - above: Ben Pfeiffer, Caroline Lee and Brigid Gallacher; below: Charles Purcell and Caroline Lee
When Robyn (Caroline Lee), standing on a small box, gently lifts the lid on a plastic container the magical sounds of a fair ring out. It is a wonderful moment; I sat up straight in anticipation, transfixed by the rhythmical writing (Lachlan Philpott) about a young boy who gets separated/abducted – it’s not clear which – from his mother Robyn (Marissa Bennett – who plays Robyn at 33) at Disneyland in the USa.
The first half of the piece is the, not so frantic, search for, and subsequent return of the child after seven emotional hours for the mother. We learn about the father who left, the mother’s next love who left.
In his 30s, David the son, (Charles Purcell) doesn’t recall being lost as a child – it is not discussed. Mother and son are disparate, unable to connect. He is a quiet child. She, an anxious mother.
David’s adult years are marked by indifference. He spends his time picking up men and having indiscriminate sex. His is a life spent seemingly uncaring and not fitting in except for long-term friend Kay (Brigid Gallacher) who is pregnant and wants him to be around. And then he disappears – again – leaving a bereft mother, a friend with a child and a lover who fell for him.
The play didn’t quite get out of first gear. Two men sitting next to me, noting that they were old school, remarked that they were missing a beginning, a middle and an end, I felt their restlessness.
The abstract set (Bethany J Fellows) is built of wooden curved boards reminiscent of a boat hull – perhaps they were all at sea, lost. The director (Alyson Campbell) perhaps did as well as she could within a static setting.
I don’t want to dismiss it completely, but I didn’t feel for the characters, I didn’t feel their sense of loss, which is a pity.