THE GIRL/THE WOMAN playing at Riverside Theatres is an eclectic mixture of theatrical styles – words, movement, drama, pathos, laugh out loud humour and comic antics.
This exciting and absorbing production, written by Aanisa Vylet, who is also one of the actors, has been in development for 12 years. THE GIRL l has been previously staged and THE WOMAN, who is the girl’s mother, added as a companion piece helping fill out some of the background of the girl’s story. These stories are sometimes separate and sometimes weave and cross over. The play concentrates on the story of the girl played by Aanisa Vylet but the mother, played by Nisrine Amine, is integral to the success of the piece as they negotiate changing times and expectations.
By making wonderful use of the stage and surrounds, in this often highly physical piece, the director Dino Dimitriadis ensures the characters shift in time and place as the two women take on a number of different roles exploring issues of cultural traditions and generational differences. Terrific use is made of voices who articulate the thoughts and insecurities of the girl. It is a story of a Muslim girl of Lebanese decent living in Western Sydney as she discovers her sexuality, escapes the confines of her home and experiments in various ways in an attempt to gain confidence and make sense of the world. She struggles to come to terms with her identity and culture and empower herself for a new future.
Set designer Jonathan Hindmarsh has created a universe of small spaces out of household furniture where the girl can practice new versions of herself and the mother can live her family life. Particularly effective are the numerous drawers from which appear an amazing assortment of objects. Lighting (Benjamin Ross Brockman) and sound design (Ben Pierpoint and Mary Rapp) further help to immerse the audience in the drama being unfolded before us.
This is a different, highly engaging and entertaining night of theatre – with even a touch of audience participation. The story is told with satire, gentleness, love, touches of the absurd and a heartfelt belief in moving forward into a new life.