REVIEW: Great White // Old Times
By Emily Worthington
As a teenager I remember being in harrowing pain. I remember fearlessly gazing over the edges of cliffs wondering what the consequences would be if I ‘accidentally’ fell. I remember walking to school and crossing the road without looking, hoping that a car would bump me out of having to sit an exam or face another day of self-doubt in a microcosm of identity confusion and existential mayhem. I remember wanting to sacrifice myself for love in a world that seemed so lonely.
As I sat in on the most recent production by SUDS (Sydney University Dramatic Society) what I had not anticipated is that I would once again be faced with the manipulative and dark feelings of my youth.
Great White a unique and modern Australian piece by Will O’Mahony is spine tingling from the first scene. Dim lighting revealed the embrace of two lovers Jack (Sean Landis) and Lauren (Georgia Condon) whispering silent sweet nothings to each other and being engaged in a passionate tug of war of love and hate. They were playfully ignorant to the impact of each other’s words and to the shark circling their relationship mere metres away. The girl-shark hybrid, also named Lauren (Lillian Smith), had me captivated from the moment she announced, “I’m going to eat you.” Lillian’s performance was a highlight for me, her gaze was strong, her innocent, twisted, and introspective expressions perfectly encapsulated the devastating but comical nature of the piece. Sean’s personification of Jack reminded me of every boyfriend I’ve ever had, and Georgia played Lauren my ‘insecure girlfriend role’ in those relationships perfectly.
The simple set left room for all focus to fall on Jack and Laurens as they engaged in a kind of dance between predator and prey, victim and villain. Each movement intentional, haunting, and oftentimes hilarious. The lighting (Tom Hicks), sound design (Henry Hulme) characterised the heart of the play. Max Peacock did an amazing job as director in creating a flow between the past and present that was so seamless the entire thing felt like some sort of beautiful dark twisted fantasy.
From the West coast of Australia to country England and set 42 years prior, Old Times welcomed old friend Anna (Serena Dalton) into the home of drowning couple Kate (Sophia Bryant) and Deeley (Thomas Hanaee). This fascinating play is susceptible to multiple meanings in every line - exactly what Harold Pinter, known for his absurdist musings, intended it to be.
I was particularly enamoured by the costume design, simple and elegant, the deep blues and black adding to the multiple perception weapon.
The disentangled duets between Anna and Deeley were sweet but left us haunted. The transitions were well thought out, the trio circling each other in intimate touches with the recall of memories while distanced enough to continue the motif of permanent, harrowing, never-ending solitude. The downfall of despair and shift in power dynamics leaves Kate standing strong and the audience second-guessing every interpretation their minds had conjured up along the way.
You can catch the show on March 1st and 2nd, and 6th – 9th from 7pm. I highly recommend securing your tickets online prior as the Cellar Theatre does not allow much room for unexpected flow on and this show definitely deserves to be sold out and packed to the rafters!
Great White // Old Times was the double bill I did not know I needed to see.
Thank you to all involved.
Director - Max Peacock
Production Assistant - Jake Parker
Set & Costume Design - Margaret Thanos & Nicole Pingon
Prop Masters & Stage Management - Declan Coyle & Emily Henderson
Lighting Design - Tom Hicks
Sound Design - Henry Hulme
Tech Operator - Charlie Breene
Graphic Designer - Elliot Ulm
Photographer - Jake Starr
Make-up Artist - Dani Maher