Messed up mayhem

Trollop (Queensland Theatre Company)

The Greenhouse, Bille Brown Studio

August 1 – 17

ImageThe power of live theatre is irrefutable; the stage allows for an instinctive urgency unachievable in other mediums. However, without nurturing of audience empathy, any such impact is hastily destroyed.

Queensland Theatre Company’s “Trollop” follows the story of the bawdy bogan Clara, who, traumatised into hermitage, apathetically languishes her life away in front of the television, the embodiment of a tracky-dacked cliche. Her boyfriend Eric attempts to re-inspire her children’s book authorship and is consequently sent upon progressively stranger quests to collect material for her new project. Cracks in the relationship begin to show and, when a quasi-stranger appears on their doorstep one night, everything is brought to an uncomfortable climax.

“Trollop” is disturbed drama and audience members expecting a traditional theatre treat will be disappointed. Regardless of whether its messed up mayhem is of personal theatre preference, however, the production lacks appeal due to its failure to inspire contemplation of the complicated dilemmas that it presents. These are unsympathetic characters who lack humanity and, consequently, reality. And when a character has a total loss of perspective, it is difficult for an audience to feel invested in their narrative.

This alienation is only compounded by stereotypical performances. As Clara, Amy Ingram is expressive, but it is to the point of animation. Anthony Standish too, gives a blatant performance that taps into Rik Mayall (“The Young Ones” years) social awkwardness to the point of distraction and annoyance. Indeed, the show’s only highlights come not from the cast, but from elements of the design aesthetic, through the majesty of a mythical puppet of David Berthold design and the use of digital projections across the entire set, which serves as an effective means of immersing the audience in Clara’s unsettling, nightmarish reality.

Maxine Mellor’s play attempts to explore the horror associated with post-traumatic syndrome, which is an interesting dramatic ambition.  If only it had been explored rather than sensationalised, because sometimes bold and brash does not necessarily equal better.

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