TEACUP IN A STORM is an original production by The Q, a theatre program that operates out of The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre in Penrith. It tells the stories of carers, drawn from a series of interviews with these carers from the local community. It is an engrossing piece of theatre. The stories are well presented and engaging.
The two excellent performers, Therese Cook and Marie Chanel, cover numerous roles ranging from carers, to those in need of care and to those in bureaucracy. There is no plot or classical dramatic structure. We are treated to a series of vignettes from the lives of ordinary people, who respond in a various ways to the situations they are in.
There is a mother of an autistic child who says that on a good day her child is wonderful and a delight to be with, but at other times you just do the best you can. She spends a lot of time explaining to this to other people and trying to educate them about the condition.
Another character talks about how her childhood was ruined by “her ugly sister Ruth” and her inexplicable tantrums and screaming, and how she spent as much time away from the family when she was young and then finally left home as soon as she was old enough. As other family members passed away she was left to reluctantly deal with Ruth, which again ruined the relatively normal life she had built for herself.
All these carers have immense difficulty dealing with bureaucrats. They are told that the person they need to deal with is not available or another department will deal with their situation or there is another hurdle to overcome before moving to the next stage of the process.
There are some warm and inspiring characters talking about their foster children or their partner with dementia. Love and affection are recurring themes, as is the drinking cups of tea.
The production is very impressive in the way it has woven fairy tales and a recurring use of buckets into the drama. A lot of the drama is constructed by very clever use of sound, light and the different components of the fixed set. In this regard, there is excellent work by designer Jonathon Hindmarsh, sound designer Danielle O’Keefe and lighting designer Liam O’Keefe.
Creators Nick Atkins, Noëlle Janaczewska, Therese Cook and Marie Chanel are to be congratulated for taking what could be a good and worthy and hand wringing topic and turning it into an excellent piece of theatre with a strong message. It deserves a wider audience.
This production played at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre between the 25th and the 27th February.