Friday, 4 October 2019

The Window Outside review

"It makes life so much easier when everybody knows its time", says one character in Belinda Lopez's The Window Outside. Presented as part of the Victorian Seniors Festival, the play explores the relationship between a family when tragedy strikes and tough decisions need to be made. Everyone is reaching boiling point after Frank has had a stroke, Evelyn is showing signs of dementia and their two adult daughters are unable to continue caring for their parents.

Carrie Moczynski reprises her role as Evelyn after playing her seven years ago in a season at La Mama. Her portrayal is once again laced with a loving vulnerability and determination and even though she doesn't explicitly state it, there are traces of acknowledgement that her mind is slowly deteriorating. Ian Rooney's performance relies on his body language and facial expressions to tell his story. He does a great job of highlighting the spark of life he once had and how it has now left him. As his oldest daughter Sharon states in one scene, he is but a shell of what he was, which the flashbacks also do well in supporting.

Julie-Anna Evans brings an authenticity to the exasperation that Sharon is feeling with her disheveled appearance and the rate at which she talks about her frustrations. Her troublesome children and failing marriage add to her fragility and Evans displays this complexity in a considered manner. However, the character of Miranda requires further development by Antonia Mochan, as we never get the sense that she is this free-spirited artist living a life of 'freedom and luxury' in New York. Most of what we see of Miranda is tonally the same and her reactions to what's occurring are more performative than genuine.

The narrative touchingly deals with matters such as a child's responsibilities and obligations to their parents and assisted living, but its final scene ignores all this and comes completely out of the blue. There are no allusions or conversations on the topic of voluntary assisted dying for the ending to be justified. There needs to be a lead-up to this as the entire play revolves around whether Evelyn and Frank should be placed in assisted living care and not about their decision to end their lives.

There is some contemplative and reflective music played during scene changes that give us the opportunity to contemplate what is happening and ask ourselves what we would do in this situation, as a parent and as a child. It's a difficult choice to make, and while this production of The Window Outside raises several important issues, its impact is lessened with a conclusion that feels tacked on.

SHOW DETAILS

Venue: Northcote Town Hall, 189 High St, Northcote, 3070
Season: until 6 October | 7:30pm, Sun 2:00pm
Tickets: $35 Full | $26 Conc
Bookings: Wise Owl Theatre


Image Credit: Felicia Smith 

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