Eve (Force of Circumstance and Nest Ensemble)
Brisbane Powerhouse, Visy Theatre
June 29 – July 16
“Eve” draws from the extraordinary real life of a woman before her time… Australian author Eve Langley who published just two books before dying alone in 1974. Believing she was the literary genius Oscar Wilde, she dressed and behaved in a manner that was far from keeping with the societal norms of the 1900s, which the show illustrates through confliction of her personal and artistic responsibilities.
In thoughtful thematic examination of eccentricity as opposed to madness, Brisbane theatre maker Margi Brown Ash embodies the schizophrenic experience of the author’s rebellion against embrace of domesticity and refusal to live on tiptoe (like Emily Dickinson), but rather to write for herself, by herself. This is enhanced by the intertwining of Oscar Wilde’s children’s story “The Selfish Giant” throughout the narrative as highlight of Langley’s struggles. Literary references abound, often in revisit of the fable’s motifs. Indeed, the play is evocatively poetic in its language, always in focus on its big-picture concerns about belonging in the world.
“Eve” is the perfect vehicle for an actress as versatile as Margi Brown Ash. Working alongside her son Travis Ash (as storyteller/musician), she is delightful in her infectious energy and quirky charm, engaging the audience through the stream of consciousness narrative’s sometimes rapid transitions. Staging is similarly interesting in its bush cabin nook and cranny details, while warm lighting invites the audience into the action.
Like “He Dreamed a Train”, with which “Eve” is paired in double bill, this is a heartbreaking story of art and identity. Equal parts memoir of an author of fantastical stories and homage to artistic sacrifice, it is story of a quirky, but determined woman beautifully brought to life by a quickly and determined performer.