Bryony Lavery’s Frozen was a Melbourne Theatre Company production that was brought up to Sydney by STC Artistic Director Robyn Nevin.
This was a powerful drama featuring three intertwined characters. Helen Morse plays Nancy, a mother frozen in grief for her small daughter murdered many years prior.Frank Gallacher was Ralph, the serial killer who can’t stop himself.
Belinda McClory was Agnetha, the criminal psychologist assigned to Ralph’s case.
This was an intimate, in the face production. By play’s close, I felt that I had truly stepped into the shoes of these intense people.
Pocket sized dynamo Morse was strong as the still grieving Nancy. Morse’s brief was a challenge, to play a woman frozen in time by the murder of her daughter, who somehow has to find her way out of deep freeze to ‘life’ again .
In the productions’ program Lavery wrote of what stirred her in to writing the play.
“I was always aware that every time there was another film about the Moors murderers or some other case, these poor souls- the relatives of the dead- would be wheeled out to relive their frozen state. They were locked in a position of hatred, a state with no forward motion in it.
‘The prickly subject of forgiveness is central to ‘Frozen’…I once heard a relative of one of the Moors children saying, ‘I am a forgiving man, but I can’t forgive that’. It’s as if he thought forgiving was conditional”.
Morse’s arc is a huge one that she charts with skill. There are two main steps on the journey. The first step is when she becomes the leader of a victim support group.
The other is when she visits Ralph in jail. It is an electric, disturbing scene with Nancy trying to connect with him, showing him photos, telling him about her life.
Frank Gallacher gave the performance of the night as the strange, scary , vindictive, coarse, misogynistic monster that was Ralph.
The irony was that Ralph, in his own way, was a frozen character. He was also in deep freeze as a result of an abusive childhood and some severe neurological deficits..
Belinda McClory gave an accomplished performance as psychiatrist Agnetha. Belinda had an interesting role to play, the contrast between the supremely confident career woman, and the pain and confusion in her private life.
These main performances were supported by John Benjamin and Darren Schnase who played two guards, positioned on the extremities of the stage, who kept constant vigil on the ‘monster’.
Julian Meyrick directed Frozen, Ralph Myers designed an outstanding set, Paul Jackson did the lights and Tim Dargaville the sound.
‘Frozen’ played Sydney Theatre Company’s Wharf 1 theatre.