People take solace in strange things when faced with tough situations. For Sue (Sandy Gore), three years after the sudden death of her husband, that thing might be a pot plant.
Kit Brookman (A Rabbit for King Jong-Il, Small and Tired, and The Great Fire) developed his new play The Plant through the 2016 Ensemble Theatre New Writing Commission, an initiative supported by the Australian Writer’s Guild and playwright David Williamson.
“It’s a bit like a gauntlet being thrown down to a playwright – go from concept to production within a year, basically. So it’s been a bit of a roller coaster. But a good one, and one that’s taught me a lot about writing.” Brookman said.
The play follows Sue’s unlikely friendship with Clare (Michelle Lim-Davidson) and the struggle of her adult children (Garth Holcombe, Briallen Clarke and Helen Dallimore) to come to terms with this newfound and inconceivable bond.
Directed by Elsie Edgerton-Till,The Plant grapples with rediscovering a sense of self, moving on and finding ways to cope when things slip out of control.
“I wanted to write a play about repair, about a person or people who pull themselves through crisis by hook or by crook.” Brookman said.
Perhaps the process of living after loss carves an alternative reality, one that is messy and initially a bit more empty. However, light and meaning can be found in unexpected places.
“The characters take extreme actions but the play takes place in a world with the same logic as our own. Grief can be a kind of heightened state, and the actions we take when we’re in that state make total sense when we’re performing them but can strike others as strange.”
“The misunderstandings that spring from that can be funny or they can be terrible, depending which side of the coin lands face up. I hope there’s a bit of both in this play.”
“It’s a gentle-hearted play, deliberately so. Plenty to laugh about, but I hope ultimately there’s something in there about the need to be generous with one another, to pay attention.”
Until Aug 5. Ensemble Theatre, 78 St, Kirribilli. $34-$71. Tickets & Info: www.ensemble.com.au or PH: 02 9929 0644
By Shon Ho.