By Judith Thompson
Directed by Rochelle Whyte
With Olivia Connolly, Dion Mills, Kat Stewart, Adam Hunter, Jim Shaw & Irene Korsten
Set Design by Harriet Oxley
Lighting by Stelios Karagiannis
Sound by Gus MacMillan
Stage Manager Daniel Hall
Assistant Stage Manager Beck Clark
I Am Yours (June 1- July 2, 2005) Thuy On, The Australian, June 10, 2005
RED Stitch Actors Theatre has built a reputation for searing domestic dramas, and its latest effort is no exception. Canadian writer Judith Thompson’s play explores the need to belong: I am Yours is a proclamation from mother to son, from lover to lover, from sister to sister. However, love and enmity lie side by side and it’s not long before there’s betrayal.
The focal point is pretty Dee (Olivia Connolly), who manipulates all the other characters to do her bidding. Estranged husband Mack (Dion Mills), sister Mercy (Kat Stewart) and ardent admirer Toilane (Adam Hunter) circulate around this damaged creature, desperate for her affection.
Overwhelmed by inexplicable, nameless fears, Dee doesn’t seem to know what she wants, but certainly enjoys the power she wields over her poor supplicants. She may beg Mack to return to her in one breath, and in the next taunt him and demand his departure; she may enjoy a passionate tryst with Toilane and then cry assault a heartbeat later. Dressed entirely in white, she is a picture of innocence and yet each night the darkness corrupts her mind.
Connolly portrayed Dee sympathetically in an emotionally exhausting role that has her screaming or weeping most of the time. Her character is so vulnerable and yet so frustrating that you don’t know whether she deserves a hug or a slap.
Red Stitch stalwart Stewart also put in a great performance as the ugly sister, the one forever in the shadow of her beautiful, golden-haired sibling, the one who yearns for skin contact and wishes she could have a brain tumour just to attract attention.
I Am Yours is the debut of the newest ensemble member, Adam Hunter, a worthy addition to the troupe. As the young man who falls violently in love with Dee and who swears that one day she’ll bear his child, Hunter was perfect as the sweet, callow and idealistic Toilane.
His mother, the pugnacious Peggy (Irene Korsten), provided a template for unconditional, albeit possessive, love; Korsten’s no-nonsense approach offered relief from all the hysteria. However, Raymond (Jim Shaw) was under-utilised as Mercy’s fantasy figure and Mills didn’t have much to play with as the cuckolded husband.
It gives nothing away to say that when Dee does indeed fall pregnant, the ramifications for all are tragic. Once again the combined talent of the Red Stitch team along with the direction of Rochelle Whyte transformed this kitchen-sink melodrama into engrossing theatre.