WOLF LULLABY by Hillary Bell considers the themes of parental guilt and responsibility and the nature of evil in children.
In this powerful and emotional play there are no winners, just hard choices each with its own dire consequences.
The play opens in a small Tasmanian country town where nine year old Lizzie’s parents, Warren and Angela, are preparing Christmas celebrations. Lizzie is arrested for shoplifting, later a little child is murdered and suspicion falls on her.
Lizzie’s seeming childhood innocence, her fear and the evil in her is portrayed very credibly by Maryellen George. Lucy Miller who plays the mother pours out all the fear and doubt as she believes her daughter is guilty. She is torn between ignoring her fears and handing her daughter over to the police.
As the investigation progresses, Lizzie is not the only one who is challenged. Her parents, bewildered and full of denial, find their accepted beliefs challenged as their world disintegrate, exposing a legacy of violence and deceit.
David Woodland as the father cannot cope with the situation or offer the support needed by his wife from whom he is separated. His physical as well as mental state deteriorates exacerbated by the welter of media publicity surrounding the case.
The wolf of the title, the evil seemingly inhabiting Lizzie’s mind, is never seen but haunts us through her fears of the dark and childish rhymes sung by a group of invisible children.
Peter McAllum as the policeman, Sergeant Armstrong, raises the notion of Lizzie having ‘bad seed’ and leads us through the investigation.
We witness the murder interrogation of a child, not so much a factual court room drama but in a way that asks us as a society how do we deal or prevent such a tragedy from taking place.
WOLF LULLABY explores the disturbing subject of children who kill and the fine line between innocence and amorality, posing the question, is there such a thing as intrinsic evil?
There is certainly some sociological questioning – unforgiving attitudes towards young killers as “bad seeds ” when they might be victims of bad parenting, children having violent instincts that could have been tamed, societies which turn the other cheek on every day misdeeds and deceit.
Under the direction of Emma Louise, this tightly focused play, with its atmosphere heightened by the set design of Allan Walpole, music by Chelsea Reed and lighting by Heidi Brosnan holds us in its grip till the very end.
Hilary Bell’s WOLF LULLABY play the New Theatre, King Street, Newtown until the 13th September.