In British playwright Lucy Kirkwood’s MOSQUITOES Alice is a scientist working towards an important new discovery. Jenny is her sister, and believes any conspiracy she reads on the internet. They couldn’t be more different. So, when tragedy forces them together, the impact has unexpected consequences.
It’s 2008 and Alice’s team of physicists at the Large Hadron Collider are searching for the Higgs Boson, stitching together the fabric of the cosmos. But at home, Alice’s family is falling apart at the seams. ‘It’s a story of facts and feelings, of resilience and decay, of particle physics and sibling rivalry, that reaches to the edges of time and space without ever losing touch with its very human heart’.
This was a compelling night in the theatre, ‘a perfectly focused family drama woven together with big questions about the universe and our very existence’.
Jessica Arthur’s direction is assured and the performances were exceptional. Jacqueline McKenzie plays the highly cerebral and impatient Alice who is more than a little condescending to her sister Jenny. Mandy McElhinney plays the brash, very outspoken Jenny who doesn’t trust anything and frequently clashes with people. She lost a child because she didn’t get it vaccinated. The clashes between McKenzie and McElhinney are alone worth the price of admission.
Charles Wu gives a very fine performance as Alice’s highly intelligent adolescent son Luke who feels neglected by his mother and wants to return to London and his friends. Luke goes missing for days one time causing his mother to fear for the worst.
Luke’s volatility is charted throughout the play including his mobile phone encounters with careless, playful Natalie that go awry. He also clashes a lot with his Aunty Jenny whose smoking irritates him no end and he doesn’t like her being around, though they do have a grudging respect for each other.
Annie Byron gives a good performance as Alice and Jenny’s ageing, cantankerous mother, Karen, who realises that her best days are behind her, and is fearful of the future. She talks sadly about her own brilliant career as a scientist and how her husband took most of the credit for her work.
Louis Seguier plays Alice’s good natured, gentle, caring boyfriend Henri.
Jason Chong plays the character of Boson, a narratorial role, (and a name pun on the Higgs Boson particle that is essential to an understanding of the fundamental building blocks of the universe), focusing on the latest developments in physics and what we can possibly expect going into the future as our understanding grows.
Angela Nica Sullen plays the character of Gavriella and a policewoman.
Elizabeth Gadsby’s costume designs were revealing of character and her set design worked well with the stage area basically being kept free with all the props being brought in and off the stage. There was also the use of a revolve.
Nick Schlieper’s lighting design was its usual high standard.
James Brown’s edgy, atmospheric soundscape was a highlight, a perfect backdrop to the action.
Highly recommended. a Sydney Theatre Company production MOSQUITOES is playing the Drama Theatre at the Sydney Opera House until Saturday 18t May, 2019.
Featured photo- Jackie McKenzie and Mandy McElhinney in Lucy Kirkwood’s MOSQUITOES at the Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Production photo Daniel Boud
‘a perfectly focused family drama woven together with big questions about the universe and our very existence’.