- Category: Arts & Culture
- Published: Wednesday, 24 October 2018 10:42
- Written by Greg Letts
Jo Morris (as Sabrina Daldry), Stuart Halusz (Dr Givings) and Rebecca Davis (Catherine Givings)
Photo Credit: Philip Gostelow
With a title like In the next Room, or The Vibrator Play, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Black Swan State Theatre Company had eschewed their usual polished productions in favour of the crude, rude, and lewd.
You would, of course, be greatly mistaken.
While the play is powered by Dr Givings' new method of treating hysteria in Victorian England (the electrical vibrator), it is the interactions between the cast that provide the friction, tension and satisfying release for the audience.
Once again Black Swan State Theatre Company have put together a stunning and innovative set that allows the audience an intimate peek into Dr Givings' operating theatre (the Next Room of the title) as the backdrop to his wife Catherine's family parlour, without the need for jarring scene changes. Thanks to the brilliant set design, the audience can easily follow along with the happenings in the next room while Catherine remains in not so blissful ignorance of her husband's work.
In a manner reminiscent of the tale of Bluebeard, Dr Givings keeps his operating theatre locked and the secrets contained therein are denied to his wife. Unfortunately, his feelings about his affection-starved wife are just as jealously guarded. But as Dr Givings' patients continue to arrive with their complaints and leave as satisfied clients, Catherine becomes increasingly dissatisfied with being disconnected from her husband's work and emotions. As with Bluebeard, it is Catherine's boredom, loneliness and curiosity that drives her to enter the forbidden next room, and which leads to a crisis in the Giving's already strained marriage.
As you would expect, In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play, provides plenty of amusing situations and laugh out loud moments. But it is also a marvellous character piece that provides some heart-wrenchingly sad scenes (Annie and Mrs Daldry at the piano in particular, bravo ladies!), and riveting drama. The cast form a terrific ensemble and do the material full justice.
The two hours simply flew by and as my partner and I drove home from the theatre, we agreed that In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play has probably been our favourite production of Black Swan State Theatre Company's 2018 season to date, and a perfect example of glimpsing the inner world of others, which draws audiences back to the theatre time and time again.
In the next Room, or The Vibrator Play is on at the State Theatre Centre of WA till 4 November.
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