Phillip Ridley’s harrowing play of grief and the impact of post traumatic stress is given the full on, in your face treatment, under Claudia Barrie’s direction. The play opens with loud heavy guitar sounds before a stark, all white room is suddenly and intensely illuminated. A single figure is screaming and begging for his life. The stage goes black.
When the lights return it is the same stark white room but tinted differently and two young boys are looking for a monster that is rumoured to live in the creek. They want to photograph the monster and post an image on-line. Again the stage goes black and the intense lights return with a different tint.
This pattern continues with the set barely changing other than the colour of the lights and an odd prop such as a ladies handbag. This alternating pattern of complete black and brightly lit scenes with forcefully delivered dialogue builds an atmosphere of menace and dissonance, themes that are matched by the drama building on stage.
A lot of the story is told in flashback. Aspects of the story are slowly revealed, threads are connected, and the audience is given details of how the seven characters have reached this particular stage in their lives. This complex storytelling is one of the interesting aspects of the play.
The story covers events relating back to the time that a family had moved to the car manufacturing town of Draylingstowe, and Dad, Mikey, wants to take a family photo. Events that happened twelve years later are viewed in detail and there are many threads that cannot be easily summarised but essentially one traumatic event has occurred that has devastated the family, made up of Mikey (Brendan Miles) and his wife Lynne (Libby Fleming) and their son Ryan (well played by Josh Anderson).
Ryan develops a friendship with the disenfranchised and nihilistic Jack (an excellent performance from Liam Nunan), and their scenes are the best of this production. They are playing young teenagers and they capture the complexity, thoughtlessness and other aspects that goes with being a teen very well.
SHIVERED is a complex drama about grief, families, love and trauma. The cast also includes Joseph Del Re, Rhonda Doyle and Andrew Johnston. Production design is by Benjamin Brockman, soundscape by Jed Silver and costume design by Rachel Scane.
A Mad March Hare Theatre Company production, SHIVERED is at the PACT Theatre, 107 Railway Parade, Erskineville and runs until 30th May.