Review: “Every Second”
Words by Juliet Lochrin
Hot tip: make sure to refer to a loved one or close female friend as a “sexy chicken” when they’re ovulating. 100% guarantee for an interesting reaction (especially if they’re infertile!).
“Every Second” is a play by Vanessa Bates that explores the effects and strains on individuals and their relationships when falling pregnant doesn’t come easily. For a piece that dealt with subject matter involving pregnancy, marriage, infidelity, pornography, and a drawn-out implied sex scene on-stage, the people involved with this SUDS production were courageous and made mature creative decisions. The strangeness of referring to your life partner as a “sexy chicken” also personally summed up the tone of the play for me in all its humour and dicey-ness.
The opening performance on Wednesday managed to keep the audience oscillating between a sense of security (and even incredulity) during the comedic moments, and ‘on-edge’ during the drama. Anthony Lovett (as ‘Bill’) stole the stage multiple times with his sharp comedic timing and awkwardly-blasé characterisation, while Sarah Jasem (as ‘Jen’) balanced out Lovett’s performance with choices that were grounded and often acted as the ‘voice of reason’. Particularly towards the end, the sense of unity between the two seemed to solidify and watching them react to each other was comforting.
The relationship between ‘Meg’ (Anika Bhatia) and ‘Tim’ (Riley Dolahenty) was much more tumultuous and dynamic, and this can be attributed to both the directorial vision of Grace Macpherson, and the choices made by the actors (and quite possibly heightened by some nerves on the night!). Bhatia and Dolahenty related to each other in many different ways on the night (and not just physically…!) – their dynamic pulled the audience into feelings of discomfort and awkwardness, nervous passion and angered love, and stilted conversation and frustrated monologues. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any more awkward, they would spin the tone of the room on its head with a witty, comedic delivery of a line.
The lighting (by Yoomi Shin) and sound (Henry Hulme) of the production also greatly added to the atmosphere in the room. Scenes of parks and lakes, bedrooms and clinics, definitely would not have had the same effect had there not been such an effective sound and lighting design (as a warning, there are flashing lights in parts of the show). The stage design by Nicole Pingon was also innovative and allowed for different scenes to take over a singular segment of the stage without it seeming too closed-in. It was a great job and I implore you to check out how the stage, lighting, and sound design all interact.
[As a side note, seeing little chalk-drawn sperms everywhere as soon we walked into The Cellar drew chuckles from people and it was a great way to set the mood for the night, so a thank you is owed to the humour and creativity of the Graphic Designer, Taylor Angelo.]
Ultimately, every second of “Every Second” was made possible by Co-Producers Emma Robinson and Rhian Mordaunt, and due to the leadership of Director Grace Macpherson. Macpherson explored and depicted subject matter that made some audience members visibly uncomfortable, but ultimately candidly extricated the emotions generated from the play’s scenes from both the actors and the audience. The actors’ animated use of space was well-thought out and contributed to the overall ebb-and-flow of tension and release throughout the play, and for this, Macpherson needs to be congratulated.