Sunday 27 August 2023

Prophet review

In Jodi Gallagher's Prophet, a man returns from war with a message that the end of the world is coming. His revelation leads to numerous interactions within the city's residents including the powerful elite and outcasts and vagrants of society. Presented as a promenade production, the audience is able to stand, walk around and follow the actors around and feel equally involved in the story (with no interaction), which has us also questioning our own ideas of faith and truth.

The ensemble work incredibly well together, with each actor bringing something unique to their character, and it is fascinating watching the dynamics of the distinct pairings or small groupings with each scene. Mia Landgren is highly memorable with her slow transformation from dutiful wife to being more challenging and confident with herself. She imbues intensity and authenticity to her character even when she is standing on the sidelines. Gabriel Partington successfully carries most of the show with his performance as he becomes a believer of what's to come displaying energy, commitment and vulnerability. His scenes with Dennis Coard as his father are particularly noteworthy and you can easily recognise the history between them. Helen Hopkins is great as the political antagonist but the role needed to have more menace and threatening undertones to it.

Sam Diamond's set design transforms the space in Theatre Works into a dystopian society, on the precipice of breaking down. Various crates and boxes are impromptu seats for the audience and soapboxes for characters to use to speak to the 'crowd', speak to each other and speak to the audience. This works wonders in immersing us into the action and feeling involved with the story while offering alternative perspectives and understandings to what is unfolding.

Roaming about also allows for a fuller appreciation of J. David Franzke's sound and composition and Bronwyn Pringle's lighting, which bring this city to life. They both create surprises for the audience with regards to how things are heard and lit up and for unexpected responses to enter our mind as a result.

There are however, scenes that go for too long or are unnecessary to the overall story and at 100 minutes, Prophet can get a little tiresome. It also takes a few scenes before you start to settle into the rhythm of the show and to become familiar with the surroundings and the idea of walking through the space, so giving people time to settle in to it all is required. Given the time that Gallagher has spent writing this work, she knows it inside out and her direction is assured and brings the performances and design elements together to remarkable effect.

Prophet highlights the importance of faith, and not just religious faith, but in its all its forms and by interrogating them through its characters, it forces the audience to do the same with their own. Through its immersive promenade setting, you can't help but be drawn into this world and trying to find out how we move forward with our lives, and keep hope alive through all the darkness and murkiness that seems to be enveloping us.

Show Details

Venue: Theatre Works, 14 Acland St, St. Kilda

Season: until 2 Sep | Tues - Sat 7:30pm
Duration: 105 minutes

Tickets: $45 Full | $35 Concession | 20 for $20
Theatre Works

Image Credit: Darren Gill

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