“It’s a rough unstable world at the crossroads of the old and the new – the Dark Ages and the Renaissance,” says Paul Gilchrist, the writer and director behind the newest pseudo-historical venture Lucy Black from theatre company, subtlenuance.
He describes for us the bawdy, tragic world the eponymous Lucy Black inhabits. “The village is troubled by strangers who bring with them the temptation of the unknown as well as its dangers.”
Abandoned by her physician father, Lucy is forced to make ends meet – the consequences of which puts her in danger of being hung, drawn and quartered. A rather grim prospect – but, as Gilchrist reminds us, “a common penalty for those caught dissecting a corpse in their pursuit of the new knowledge.”
If this sounds pretty heady for a night of theatre, consider their last production of a similar ilk: Catherine of Avignon, a 2009 show that charted the turmoils of a real-life 14th century mystic. Our reviewer at the time called it, “poetic and whimsical and wickedly funny.” Despite a small space and an even more limited budget, if the script is right and the audience willing, theatre that thinks outside the box can really satisfy.
“It is in many ways easier to take risks in indie theatre because indie theatre audiences are up for risk-taking. And because indie theatre rarely has commercial sponsorship they are not beholden to vested interests or conservative attitudes and can become a space for challenging ideas,” agrees Gilchrist.
Which brings us back to Lucy Black. When was the last time you went to a play for which the playwright could cite the following for inspiration: a vial of poison and a cleaver; a blood stained sheet; pigs ears; bear baiting; the endless and constant stars; princes, butchers and charlatans; sisters, daughters and lovers? Yeah, we thought so.
May 24-Jun 4, TAP Gallery, 278 Palmer St, Darlinghurst, $12-25, 0403 956 758, subtlenuance.com