Saturday 27 May 2023

Crocodiles review

Written by Vidya Rajan, Crocodiles follows the aftermath of an incident at an aged care home that leaves a number of people contemplating their role in the matter and who should be taking responsibility, including a migrant aged care worker and a doctor.

The strength of this production lies with its cast, and the performances by Rachel Kamath and Marta Kaczmarek provide the finest results with their scenes together. Most compelling is when the two of them open up to each other as migrant worker Sandhya (Kamath) gives aged care resident Helen (Kaczmarek), a bath.

The ensuing scenes are less engaging and this is for a variety of reasons. Rajan writes interesting dialogue for her characters, but in Crocodiles, there are periods where people are speaking to each other via technology and the intimacy that was previously displayed is immediately lost. While this is billed as a dark comedy, there are a few instances of humour that are out of place in a play like this, such as the office worker who openly speaks about how sushi affects her digestion.

The set design has a hospital bed positioned front and centre of the stage, which then transforms into Sandhya's bedroom. This change cleverly connects Sandhya and Helen even more and ties in nicely when the two of them lie on a bed together later in the story. It is the scenes that takes place along the far back of the stage that draw us out of the story, particularly when there is still an imposing hospital bed between the actors and the audience. This is especially evident when Priya, a doctor, (Shamita Siva), is sharing their anxiety and guilt over what’s transpired to their partner (Tom Dent).

This is where the direction by Marcel Dorney falters. From the dialogue, it feels like Dent should be patronising and calculating, but the movement and body language lack the intensity the character should have, and make him come across as more humorous and silly. The final scene also needed to have tighter direction to support the authenticity that the dialogue expressed.

There is some exceptional talent attached to this production, and Elbow Room have built a strong reputation for presenting memorable and exciting work, but Crocodiles still needs further development to bring it on par with those. Hopefully this can get a second life, as Rajan is touching on a number of problematic societal issues that need more conversation and exposure.


Venue: Northcote Town Hall Arts Centre, 189 High St, Northcote
Season: Until 4 June | Wed - Sat 7:30pm, Sun 5:00pm
Duration: 80 minutes
$38 Full | $30 Concession
Bookings: Darebin Arts

Image Credit: Cameron Grant

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