June 17 – 20 2015
Reviewed by Katelyn Panagiris
It is a play of epic proportions, shining a light on humanity in the aftermath of World War I.
The play follows seven characters across two timeframes presented on stage simultaneously.
From the opening moments, I felt immersed in the gothic world of the play; crafted in no small part by Brent Lammas’ set design and Tim Gawne’s lighting design. Combined with Wil Hughes’ sound design, an eerie and unsettling mood is set as the omnipresent character, Snow Cuttler (Michael Deed) is introduced. The interaction of performance and design – for example the use of the scrim and projection – distances the past from the present, and the fallen from the living. What follows on from these opening moments is a performance of equal parts beauty and violence.
As a psychological thriller Tiptoe demands active engagement and interpretation from the audience. The play contains several characters, subplots and twists at every point. Striking a balance between what is said and unsaid is crucial: in the first act I felt like there was too much exposition, whereas in the latter acts of the play I was left piecing together fragments of information. The density of the narrative especially became too much to process when focus was split and I was required to navigate three conversations simultaneously. In saying this, the staging is effective in linking characters and situations across the two timeframes, and there are some beautiful shared lines executed in perfect unison.
Each character, haunted by the past and dreams of a perfect future, is fully embodied by actors who realize the dense script with great skill. They are captivating to watch, with moments of sheer brilliance in Act III when the tension and intensity of the piece reaches its peak. In particular, the performances of James Trigg as Angus Drummond and Sam Ryan as Seth McClusky are heart-wrenching, while Sarah McLeod’s gritty performance as Binny Broadfoot carries the performance through to its final moments.
At the heart of Tiptoe is a simple love story driven by loss and hope. It is an enthralling performance, engaging the audience on both an intellectual and emotional level. Must close Saturday.