By Mark O’Rowe
Directed by Ross Ganf
With Ella Caldwell, Erin Dewar & Karen Roberts
Set Design by Hamish Fletcher
Lighting by Graham Wehlan
Sound by Ben Grant
Costumes by Danielle Brustman
Stage Manager Daniel Hall
Crestfall (Oct 4 – Nov 4, 2006) Chris Boyd, Herald Sun 30/10/2006
The meek shall inherit the earth. Yeah, right. Not in this lifetime.The meek are packhorses in the affairs of men.
In Mark O’Rowe’s Dublin – a horror mix of Finnegan’s Wake and A Clockwork Orange – the women are worse off, even, than the horses. Crestfall is a tightly plaited story told by three: Olive, Ali and Tilly. Each has her crutch: Olive adores sex, Ali hungers for love and Tilly is a heroin addict.
Olive reckons she’s the match for the men. She’s had a conga line – six in one go.
This story begins with her and a man called The Bru going to a hotel room. They’re both married.
Remorseful, The Bru goes home to Ali, the mother of his child. Their child is brain damaged after a kick to the head from a horse. The Bru takes the boy with him to get revenge on the beast. Any beast.
In the course of this day, the lives of all three women are touched by extreme violence.
O’Rowe overshoots in Crestfall. He writes in a stilted, clumsy poetry. It’s hard work for cast and audience, but it is worth the effort. Just.
Ths stylised, high physicalised production begins with Ella Caldwell (Olive) snaking her way up some hay bales for yet another hay ride. All the while Erin Dewar (Tilly) sits in a horse-trough bath-tub.
When Olive encounters The Bru’s wife (a mighty Karen Roberts), she inspects her teeth and lifts her foot as if it were a hoof.
This harrowing, brilliantly acted, thoughtful piece is another ripper from Red Stitch. But it’s not for the squeamish.
Bill Perrett, Sunday Age ‘Preview’ (15/10/2006)
Irish playwright Mark O’Rowe has a reputation for a hard-edged vision of the world, and nobody will accuse him of going soft in Crestfall. Its set in a dystopian community, characterised by violence, crime and a less than romantic view of relationships between men and women. The narrative is in the form of three connected monologues, separately delivered by the three female characters: Olive Day (Ella Caldwell), a sex-addicted hard case; Ali Ellis (Karen Roberts), fierce defender of her family, and married to one of Olives casual flings; and Tilly McQuarrie, drug addict and prostitute.
Although it is an essentially text-based piece, each of the monologues tells roughly the same events from different points of view, there is a strong physical element to this production.
Each performer enacts her story in movement (Ingrid Weisfelt directed this aspect) while the other two by turns and together reflect and sometimes join the action.
But the strongest impression is of O’Rowe’s use of language. For all their unflinching account of squalor and brutality, his words are lyrical. Theres something of Burgess and Kubricks Alex from A Clockwork Orange in the vernacular inventiveness and spark of the storytelling. Ross Ganf’s direction takes all kinds of risks to create the otherness of the world demanded by the script; the whole thing works to stunning effect.