DEADHOUSE: TALES OF SYDNEY MORGUE – LOUISA COLLINS: A POISON CROWN
A POISON CROWN by GINA SCHIEN is one of the plays in a season titled DEADHOUSE, TALES OF SYDNEY MORGUE showing in the hauntingly atmospheric Crypt underneath St James’ Church. The story is intriguing, the issues are thoughtfully presented, the location is wonderful and the array of diverse characters makes for some excellent entertainment.
A POISON CROWN is the tale of the trial in 1888 of Louisa Collins for the murder of her husband. To be precise it is the tale of the four trials in 1888 of Louisa Collins for the murder of her two husbands. Louisa was the last woman hanged in NSW after an all-male jury found her guilty of poisoning both men. The case caused outrage and conflict. On one hand it was seen as inappropriate to hang a woman, especially one found guilty by all-male jury in a jurisdiction where women did not have the vote. Not being able to vote for politicians that advocated the abolition of the death penalty was further point of outrage. An alternative position was taken by politicians taking a strong law and order approach. Who would think that 130 years ago conservative politicians claimed that they would use the full force of the law against these terrible criminals? It seems little has changed.
The Crypt underneath St James’ Church is a perfect venue for A POISON CROWN. The low ceilings, the vaulted tunnels, exposed sandstone and the side rooms are fascinating in themselves and this is further enhanced by the clever use of lighting, stunning costumes and props. Rather than change the scenery on stage the audience is taken to various parts of the crypt. This adds to the authenticity of the experience and makes the audience feel involved and watching the actual events, such as the trial, the police investigation and debates in parliament.
Performances from the large cast performing various roles are very good. Kyla Ward as the narrator, Jacqui Robson as the anguished Louisa Collins and Chris Miller as the deteriorating defence lawyer are very impressive.
A POISON CROWN opened Thursday, 25th October and runs until 9th November.
Executive Producer Stephen Carnell Producers Amanda Asquith and Michael Dengler Writer Gina Schien Director Liviu Monsted Production Design Chevy O’Hanlon Sound and Lighting Design Mehran Mortezaei Costumes Susan Carveth (Genesian Theatre) and Sarah Jane Freeman (The Clothes Library) Make-Up Dale Smoothy Props Lew McDonnell Stage Managers Farlie Goodwin and Pierce Nicholson Assistant Stage Managers Aaron Smith, Ella Drinkwater, Meagan Fitzpatrick Photography Phyllis Wong
Cast David Attrill, Sandra Campbell, Christopher Daw, Steve Donelan, Joanna Eve, Shaun Foley, Jordan Gallegos, Mary-Anne Halpin, Wendi Lanham, Steve Maresca, Chris Miller, Liviu Monsted, Jacqui Robson, Alex Smith, Kyla Ward and Gregory J Wilken.