The Underground Ark | Stage Whisper’s review

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Hannah Wood and Ethan Gibson

Written and produced by Bruce Hoogendoorn. Long Run Theatre Productions. Directed by Fiona Fox. The Courtyard Theatre, Canberra Theatre Centre. 13–23 June 2012

Premised on a government priority for 400 handpicked Australians to see runaway climate change through in a large underground shelter, this deft play explores the survival of politics and human nature through rigorous indoctrination and committee selection of breeding pairs.  Its ending leaves the audience with several questions to debate, but it moves along and is penned beautifully.

The play is fortunate to have very competent actors.  In particular, Ethan Gibson was most convincing as an unpleasantly doctrinaire (if understandable) medical student; and David Villanti’s character, with more than one side to his nature, indulged convincingly in a taste for his growing power in a closed community.  And not only the acting was of consistently high standard: lighting, set design, and sound were faultless; costuming was, as it should have been, unnoticeable; and the play’s pace made it feel shorter than it was.

If I have one criticism, it is only that the play reveals too much too soon, forcing the revelation to be repeated more than once.  But this is a play less of mystery than of alternations, between tension and delight, acceptance and rebellion, comedy and tragedy.  In so being, this tapestry of human nature is rich enough to keep you thinking for some time after the final bow.

This playwright has talent to spare. Watch him.

John P. Harvey

Image: (L–R) Peter Holland, Ethan Gibson, and David Villanti, in The Underground Ark.  Photo: Miriam Miley-Reed

Posted on June 18th 2012 in Reviews

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