Richard Murphet’s latest play, The Darkening Sky, combines the fading memories of an older man, a contemporary mystery and historical intrigue.
Currently playing at St Kilda’s Theatre Works, The Darkening Sky, tells of James, who has lost the two most important women in his life – his mother Heather and girlfriend Chantal.
James has no idea what happened to either. While traumatised he has tried to get on with his life. But then a detective, Tony, for reasons unknown, is handed the cold case involving Chantal’s disappearance.
Through James’ childhood reminiscing we learn his parents’ marriage was not a happy one with his father Ray often beating his mother. At the same time Heather had a major secret which involved members of the ‘party’. Her activities involved a relationship with ‘friend’ Greg. They also brought her to the attention of the police. These activities occurred in the 50s at the height of the Cold War when the Government’s fear of communism was at an all time.
When Heather left without reason Jamie was raised by his aunt as his father had already deserted the family.
Several years later Jamie falls for Chantal. Through the reminiscences of a young Jamie and Tony’s efforts to find Chantal, we learn she also had an intriguing past, mixing with a number of `colourful’ characters scattered around Melbourne.
According to Murphet two questions intrigued him when writing The Darkening Sky in 2019. The first – how can we depend on our fallible, fragmentary and fading memory as we try to understand, to come to terms with, moments of personal loss and trauma in our dimming past? The second – what is it that inspires ordinary people to undertake acts of undeniable heroism and what do they have to sacrifice to do so?
Brian Lipson’s performance as James certainly ensures The Darkening Sky answers the first question. On stage for most of the 105 minute play and with demanding and sometimes complex dialogue which includes plenty of analogies, he’s very believable as the `memory challenged’ James.
He’s well supported by Matthew Connell as the Young Jamie, Tom Dent as Tony, Edwina Wren as Heather and Rebekah Hill as Chantal. Anthea Davis, Adam Pierzchalski, Tony Reck and Mark Tregonning play several roles.
Black and white footage displayed on a large screen behind the set’s main piece, a bar, support the actors and storyline. This together with a musical accompaniment by pianist Adrian Montana, who also composed the score, gives the play a neo-noir feel.
The concentration needed to keep up with the different characters in The Darkening Sky is rewarded with a layered story of love, loss and intrigue
The Darkening Sky is playing at Theatre Works, 14 Acland Street, St Kilda, until March 26. Visit the Theatre Works website for more information and tickets.
*Photo credit: Chelsea Neate
- live shows, melbourne reviews
Subscribe My Newsletter
Unsubscribe at any time.