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NIDA has commenced its inaugural Independent Production Program, an initiative allowing emerging artists and companies to further their practical theatre experience. Kicking off is Mountford’s take on the haunting Shallow Slumber written by Chris Lee.  Told in reverse, the play recounts the complex relationship between a social worker called Moira and Dawn, a young mother who has ticked all the boxes for the department (played by NIDA graduates Rebecca Johnston and Catherine Terracini). The play is based on the infamous ‘Baby P’ case in the UK as well as Lee’s own experiences as a social worker in London.

The performances are strong with Terracini lending a demoniacal complexity to Dawn. It is gripping stuff as we are left with our own gruesome imaginings until the final moments of the play. However, as we arrive at the climax the motivations of both Dawn and Moira are never fully realised, and thus the piece never delivers the emotional height that one would expect. It is certainly a daring and admirable first for both Mountford and the program.

Jul 4-14, Parade Theatre NIDA, 215 Anzac Parade, Kensington, $18-28, 1300 795 012,