The Bakehouse Theatre, Fri 4 May.
Rapunzel is a folk tale that has many different aspects and Casey Thomson has researched the tale through various European traditions, using the kernel of the story and selecting between the different variations to present Lowground. Of course anything that involves The Brothers Grimm might be a folk or faery tale and is generally aimed towards children – but universally tends to be quite dark in content.
Thus with the stage dark, we’re warmed (or should that be warned) to the action with some instrumental music, Emma Luker’s cello, which simply resonates foreboding, ably accompanied by Dee Trewartha (guitar), Kerryn Schofield (contrabass flute and flute) and Shaun Doddy (percussion and effects). The music through this show is well written and arranged, and the delivery is superb – and having the musicians on-stage, at the scene, but not in the action, works a treat, after all, the music is intrinsic to a musical! The scene, as the lights come up, shows an old style lounge chair, clearly it was high quality in its better days and on the other side a raised part of staging which is Rapunzel’s Tower.
First enters the Imp (Jonathon Crouch), a mixture of Elf, Puck, punk and Narrator who strings and sings this tale together for us. He does it all fabulously, combining a great singing voice with drama, body language and facial expression. We’re then exposed to his mistress, (in the sense of his master), the Wicked Witch (Casey Thomson, writer, producer and director) who plays and sings this character to a tee. Rapunzel, the innocent and of course, beautiful young maiden, is the highlight of Costumer/Set Designer Bianka Kennedy’s creations, the hoop (on the outside) skirt a visual reminder of her captivity. And finally the Prince (Kasey Guy Stephenson), a masculine earth faery in real life, perfectly cast here.
An earlier version of this was in the Adelaide Fringe approximately four years ago – it has progressed significantly since that time – the text and songs are tighter and better focused, there is a good balance between the drama and little pieces of humour. Considerable expertise has been utilised in the set design and costuming and the show comes through brilliantly.
The audience, myself included, really enjoyed the performance. At one point there was a gorgeous vocal harmony from the musicians, which was a real delight at an auspicious moment of the drama.
The staging of Lowground, the lighting, the music, the mood, the writing and production reflects a lot of work that has come together beautifully with a great team. I can only hope that it isn’t four years until this wonderful show is performed again and that Casey Thomson is ready to write and deliver her next piece of theatre – she is certainly capable!
Lowground performs at The Bakehouse Theatre, 255 Angus St, from 6.30pm & 8.30pm, until Sat 5 May.
Book at bakehousetheatre.com. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Image courtesy of Ben Searcy