Kate Gaul seems to be the go to gal when it comes to staging Irish playwright Enda Walsh’s plays in Sydney.
Following on fromThe New Electric Ballroom at The Stables and Penelope at Tap Gallery, Gaul mounts MISTERMAN at The Old Fitzroy and scores a hat trick.
Funny bleak in the way so much Irish theatre and literature is, MISTERMAN has a not so oblique antecedence from Krapp’s Last Tape with its solitary protagonist and its use of reel to reel recorders.
The intimate Old Fitzroy space is transformed into a moth eaten, black draped abode with an array of mostly reel to reel audio recording machines, a table, a chair and a stove.
This is the lair of Thomas Magill, self-styled recording angel of the sin infested village of Innishfree. This Fanta chugging fantasist is on an evangelical mission to document the town’s indiscretions, impieties and hypocrisies.
Thomas, however, is not an emissary of gentle Jesus, meek and mild, but of the Old Testament God, ready to smite the sinner and trash the transgressor. He cites Noah over Christ and vengeance over forgiveness. Old style Catholicism has cramped his emotional and sexual development and there’s a creepy Norman Bates type mother fixation at play.
Thomas is played by Thomas Campbell in a rich, robust, visceral and vital performance, mixing a charming innocence layered with an unhinged malevolence. He slides from monologue to dialogue, portraying a myriad of the village locals with a deft dexterity of vocalisation and posture, claiming the space and nailing the characters.
A terrific script and a masterful characterisation are aided and abetted to high degree by Hartley T A Kemp’s lighting design that is not afraid of the dark, and Nate Edmondson’s sound design, pivotal to the focus on the auditory that pervades the play. Thomas is quite literally hounded and haunted by sounds and voices, and due to Edmondson’s work, the audience is too. The machines are like ghosts, unholy ones at that, at times turning on automatically, repeating the recorded past, taunting Thomas’ present.
MISTERMAN is chilling, thrilling, compelling theatre. It would be a sin to miss it. A Siren Theatre Company production in association with Red Line productions MISTERMAN is playing the Old Fitzroy theatre until the 27th June, playing Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm and Sundays at 5pm. For more information visit the website- http://www.sirentheatre.com/misterman/