Sunday, 23 September 2018

Pinky Promise - Theatre Review

What: Pinky Promise
When: 21 - 26 September 2017
Where: LongPlay
Written and directed by: Rebecca Perich
Performed by: Holly Dodd and Emily Joy
Holly Dodd and Emily Joy
I think I just stumbled across the next big name in Australian theatre last night when I saw Pinky Promise at LongPlay. Amazing actors working with great detail and delicacy on one of the most intriguing plays I have seen in a long time and directed to perfection by the playwright, Perich.

Pinky Promise is the story of two sisters, but the tale is told backwards and in a sort of zig zag motion. I was totally enthused by Perich's way of telling this story, giving us little snippets, moving on, and then returning to backfill information. It was an amazing post-truth reminder that there is a difference between what we see with no context and how things change when context is applied.

The play starts by B (Joy) showing A (Dodd) a jewelry receipt she found in her boyfriend's pocket and which she assumes is for an engagement ring. Don't get side tracked though. This is not a romance story. Pinky Promise is a story outlining the depth and complexity of a relationship which starts at birth and develops in moments of celebration, teasing, and despair. 

Can you ever be 100% happy for someone who has hurt you badly? Can you ever completely cut yourself off from someone you shared your secret childhood crush with? Can you ever truly hate someone who made you laugh by farting in your face? Can you every truly forgive someone who abandoned you in a crisis situation?

Growing up is never easy and the home life of A and B is one with some complications many people don't have to live through. In the script Perich does not avoid the tough times just as she allows the audience to fully embrace the moments of great beauty and joy as these two sisters learn about love and loss and...well... life. What she does do is lead us gently where she needs us to go to truly understand these women trying to find what it is to be sisters as adults which is a very different thing to being sisters as children.

Dodd and Joy understand the delicacy and nuance of Perich's writing perfectly, and their relationship is as completely believable as it is complex. One of the things I absolutely adored about their performances was their ability to avoid falling into the almost universal trap of playing their child selves as caricatures. Neither of them overplayed at any point. They aged down but they did not dumb down or fall into stereotypes or parodies.

To add to the exciting writing style and the nuanced acting, also layered in is Perich's incredible skill as a director. LongPlay is not a space with much in the way of facilities. It is a small end stage and I don't think it has 3 phase power and definitely no lighting grid. Perich has cleverly used a few standard lamps and placed them to create wonderful angles and atmosphere, a bit of strobing, and when a wash was needed, we got that too. I was pretty darn impressed, let me tell you!

As well, Perich has created a really strong sound design which is beautifully integrated to the production and enhances the work perfectly. It is rare to see such a complete and well produced piece of work and when gems such as Pinky Promise come along you know you are seeing something incredibly extraordinary.

Sadly, you won't be able to see the show as I saw it because the performers have to go on to other projects. Having said that, Pinky Promise is continuing on for a few more days and being presented as staged readings for the rest of their Fringe season and I still highly recommend you go and see it for the incredible writing and direction alone. I am confident the actors will be great too.

4.5 Stars

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