October 12, 2014

Love in a Changing Climate


Love in a Changing Climate

Between Two Waves
by Ian Meadows
State Theatre Company Umbrella Program.
The Bakehouse Theatre, 255 Angas Street, Adelaide
Duration: 110 minutes.
October 11. Tickets: $ 20 – $ 30.
Bookings: BASS 131 246 or Bakehouse box office.
Until October 25.

“You get to the gate and realize you are back where you started, or something.” In a scrunched-up precis of the last lines of T.S. Eliot’s “Little Gidding”, Daniel, the central character of Between Two Waves, describes an exploration, and a crisis, that takes him, and the audience for Ian Meadows’ bold and imaginative play, full circle.

First performed in 2012 by Griffin Theatre, and now ably revived by director Corey McMahon as part of State Theatre Company’s Umbrella program, Between Two Waves asks questions about the future and what it may hold. For Daniel, a young climatologist, invited to write government policy on climate change, it is a disturbing challenge to him as a scientist. And when he meets and falls in love with the free-spirited Fiona, he is also forced to reflect on the implications of parenthood in an uncertain world.

Crisply directed by McMahon, this production is well-suited to the intimate confines of the Bakehouse. Olivia Zanchetta’s thrifty design features a box stage with a skylight and slatted windows, serving scenes in Daniel’s apartment and office. The lighting by Nic Mollison, is probing and, at times, exhilaratingly warm, and Jason Sweeney’s sound design subtly underscores the shifts in mood and gathering anxiety of the narrative.

The performances are excellent. As Daniel, a role originally played by the playwright in the Griffin production, Matt Crook is at his versatile best, uncovering complexities and hidden personal griefs as the boyishly nerdy scientist becomes increasingly weighed down by his intellectual responsibilities. Ellen Steele’s lively Fiona, is an unlikely match for the tightly-wound Daniel, but Meadows’ portrait of a developing (and unraveling) not-quite thirty-something relationship is fresh and, judging by the young first-night audience’s response, perceptively drawn. Fiona’s mix of confidence and vulnerability is a familiar one but Steele brings interesting and touchingly believable inflections to the character.

As Grenelle, the insurance assessor, Elena Carapetis spars well with Daniel’s initial peevishness and, with good writing from Meadows, her performance develops as the scientist’s state of mind deteriorates. As Jimmy, Daniel’s supervisor and mentor, James Edwards provides a valuable contrast in temperament important to the play’s concerns.

In a year when Adelaide’s second-tier companies have been relatively quiet, this fine production is a welcome arrival. Between Two Waves is a new Australian play well deserving of another staging and its themes have become even more topical since it was written. In its depiction of an ethically and emotionally burdened scientist whose warnings go unheeded, another Eliot quote comes to mind – “After such knowledge, what forgiveness?”

Murray Bramwell

“Love in a Changing Climate”, The Australian, October 14, 2014, p.14.

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