The boutique hotel, Toorak Manor, proved the perfect venue for Anthropocene Play Company’s presentation of the play Ignis.
The hotel’s bedrooms and sitting rooms provided an intimate and realistic setting for the play, which tells the emotionally fraught stories of 10 individuals. Their intertwining stories are told against the backdrop of a catastrophic bushfire, the smoke from which is covering the city where they live.
Characters include Jordan (Kulan Farah) a PHD student who sees the need to pick up prostitute Samantha (Catherine Morvell). Jordan is in a relationship with Amy (Pia O’Meadhra) who works for politician James (Sebastian Gunner). James is hoping to become the next Prime Minister. When the relationship between the two turns toxic, James looks to his wife Alison (Clare Larman) for her support.
When James fails to agree to Alison’s conditions she reconnects with Rita (Mikhaela Ebony) an old close friend. Rita is also dealing with a number of issues including a run-away daughter and concern for her husband Gary (Jordan Fraser-Trumble), a firefighter who is playing an active role in fighting the fires.
When Gary is injured he’s cared for by nurse Rachel (Sophie Muckart) who has relationship issues at home with her husband, clergyman Tony (Ismail Taylor-Kamara). Tony is struggling emotionally as a result of a relationship with Antony (Tim Clarke) who in turn comes into contact with Samantha.
Each story unfolds in a different room, adding a new dimension to what has gone on previously. Audience members carry their own chairs, following guide Caitlin Langridge into each room.
As some rooms are quite small the audience and actors often find themselves in very close proximity, however this didn’t seem to worry the actors who are all very believable in their roles.
Playwright Daniel Nello based Ignis on Arthur Schnitzler’s 1897 play La Ronde (which was banned at the time of its writing for indecency). The play would seem to fit ideally into Anthropocene’s mission of making incisive, relevant theatre that provokes action and conversation around the significant issues of our time.
While some of the topics raised in Ignis are more recent, such as the impact of climate change and the Me-Too movement, emotions such as love, sex and betrayal which feature in many of the stories are timeless.
*Photo credit: Greg Elms.
Jenny Burns attended a performance of Ignis as a guest of the producers.
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