Wednesday 4 October 2017

Echo - Theatre Review

What: Echo
When: 27 September - 1 October 2017
Where: La Mama Courthouse
Written and performed by: Amber Hart and Christie Rohr
Lighting by: Julian Adams

Christie Rohr
The newest entrant in the conversation of being female in Australia at the moment is Echo, playing at La Mama Courthouse. A show hovering somewhere between testimonial and social cliche it is the rawness of knowing these experiences are real for Christie Rohr and Amber Hart which lifts it out of the banal.

These two women have been friends for years. Both have a long and diverse performance making background spanning decades (although they really don't look that old!). They have the rather unusual bond of both experienced unplanned pregnancy and both deciding to keep the child.

Hart starts us off, talking about the experience of choice. To have or not to have, that is the question. None of the conundrums are new. Ever since free love and contraception became the norm women have been struggling with these questions and coming to a range of diverse conclusions. Whilst Hart adds nothing new to the conversation it is important for us all to understand that nothing has been resolved and every time pregnancy occurs, these questions must be struggled through. It never gets easier and it never can get easier.

Rohr echoes Hart's dilemma but her story goes much, much deeper and brings up the issue of abuse. What happens when the birthing question is influenced and manipulated by an abuser?

Rohr is intensely honest to the point of extreme pain for her and the audience. She does not shy away from her culpability but she also stands strong in the belief she has done the best she can.

Again, this story is far too common. In Rohr's tale though, we can make change. We can act to change circumstances. We can work harder to recognise abuse and refuse to tolerate it. We can remove the mythology young women are raised with which says we must have a man no matter what and any many who will stick around is better than no man at all.

Everything we know about social health proves this wrong and it is time we started teaching young girls and women of their intrinsic worth so that men cannot get away with this behaviour and women won't join in the game as if it was normal and okay. Let's break the generational cycle and let the children born of these circumstances know there is a different choice.

The ideas in Echo are strong and the staging ticks a lot of acceptable boxes. Adam's lighting works well and lifts some moments out of the ordinary although there were some scenes when actors were completely unlit which confused me.  Av is used especially effectively and anyone who has taken out an intervention order will fee the impact of what Rohr does with this.

The biggest problem with this show is pace. What in Rohr's performance seems restrained and measured comes across like a 45 vinyl single playing at 33 & 1/3 in Hart's scenes.

Echo is not a bad night of theatre but it does lack dynamics and needs more development on it's meta-statement. I don't know if this particular play has much more forward momentum but I will be interested to see what this pair come up with next.

2 Stars

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