Brenda at the Yard TheatreCultureTheatre
Debuting at HighTide Festival 2015, Brenda is a playful and poignant piece of new writing that challenges our conception of what makes us people.
The play begins with a couple (played by Alison O’Donnell and Jack Tarlton) who have fallen on hard times and are attending a community event to appeal for a job. What began as practise for the event turns into a dissection of Brenda’s mental fragility and the underlying issues separating the couple.
EV Crowe bravely confronts what we choose to define us within society. As the play progresses it subverts the conventional definition of a person. Robert, presented as the stable character, begins to unravel as Brenda rejects the things that he deems important. With her new confidence we see a glimpse of how it would feel to live without being restricted by the roles and responsibilities society expects of us. The scene between the couple playing house – dinner on the stove, wine opened, friends on their way – poignantly portrays the pursuit for the “ideal” as trivial, for even in pretend they aren’t happy.
Caitlin McLeod’s production skilfully mobilises audio effects and immersive elements to bring the piece tantalisingly close to breaking the fourth wall whilst pushing the boundaries of reality. Her strong partnership with sound provides an engaging dimension to the piece. Jack Tarlton delivers a performance that emulates commendably the behaviour of a man under pressure; he plays with components of the old Music Hall genre to provide fantastic comic relief to the foreboding atmosphere.
As the stripped-down stage suggests, this performance requires of the audience a lot of interpretation. It is not easily definable and from the beginning you are given little context to the scene.
It is a brave portrayal of a piece of challenging and exciting new writing that could have benefited from a little extra time to really develop the characters progression of self-discovery.
Brenda is at the Yard Theatre from 22nd September until 17th October 2015, for further information and to book visit here.
Watch a trailer for Brenda here: