In Suzie Hardgrave's The Disappearing Trilogy, gender and character come under the spotlight with an actor expressing her confusion and uncertainty on what it means to be both a woman and a performer. Where does one end and one begin? Can they co-exist, or will one eventually cease to exist?
Hardgrave displays outstanding skill in her writing and acting with each of the three episodes, which partners her thesis on the topic of “the actress”, and performance and construct of gender and character. The first episode has Hardgrave lamenting a one-star review after a show has closed and determining her self-worth. The second, which is the most engaging, has her using her body to explore the demands and expectations placed upon a performer as a pre-recorded narrator verbalises what we are seeing. The final episode has the actor step out from the confines of the stage and attempt to speak to us as a genuine person.
While the thoughts and suggestions this work conjures are interesting, at times the dialogue becomes repetitious and draw us out of her frame of mind. The more these theories and certain phrase are repeated, so to do the impressions they leave on us weaken. The first two episodes could easily have had some time shaved off them without losing any impact and allowing her words to still hold power.
Hardgrave performs in a theatre within a theatre and the design by Bronwyn Pringle is simple but effective in capturing the anxiety and vulnerability of the actor and the woman. The rubber bands that run across the space indicate her ability to bounce back but also as something that can trap and tangle her. Pringle's lighting simultaneously reinforces the consuming hold that performance can have on a person and the idea that this woman has lost herself in this world. Chris Wrenn's sound design works incredibly well with the text to bring potency to Hardgrave's script.
The Disappearing Trilogy is a practice-based research project that even with being grounded in academia does not overwhelm with how the ideas are presented. Hardgrave captures the confusing and uncertain nature of what it means to be an actor as well as a woman, and how these can not only get blurred together, but vanish completely.
Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St. Carlton.
Season: until 27 October | Wed and Fri 6:30pm. Thur & Sat 8:30pm, Sun 4:00pm
Tickets: $30 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: La Mama Theatre
Image Credit: Darren Gill