By Nicky Silver
Directed by Chris Kohn
With Verity Charlton, Olivia Connolly, Vincent Miller, Dion Mills & Richard Cawthorne
Set and Costume by Danielle Brustman
Raised in Captivity (11/6/03 – 6/07/03) –Richard Evans, Stage Left 30-Jun-03
Focusing on the emotional fallout following the death of a parent, Raised in Captivity is an absurd comedy tackling the complexities of human relationships. The excellent cast manage to tease out the humour of the play without undermining its tragic elements. Its a feat which results in a hilarious yet incisive production.
Siblings Sebastian (Dion Mills) and Bernadette (Verity Charlton) meet for the first time in years, at a cemetery after the funeral of their mother, Miranda. Also in attendance is Bernadette’s husband Kip (Richard Cawthorne), a disillusioned dentist with an unhealthy obsession with teeth.
We quickly learn that Sebastian has been estranged from both his sister and mother since leaving home. He is a writer reluctant to return to his sister’s house for either the wake or a protracted visit.
We also meet Sebastian’s psychologist Hillary MacMahon (Olivia Connolly) in an extremely funny exchange during which the roles of client and therapist are reversed. This scene is handled extremely well, both in terms of acting and direction. This also helps set up the second act, which magnifies the absurd elements presented during the first.
Rounding out the cast is Dylan Taylor Sinlcair (Vince Miller) a prisoner with whom Sebastian has an obsessive correspondence. While reading his letters to Dylan, Sebastian engages in a kind of dream conversation with the felon. During this, Dylan questions Sebastian, blurring the line between communication and fantasy.
In the second half both Connolly and Miller play additional characters. Connolly makes a brief yet memorable appearance as Miranda, visiting her confused son Sebastian. Miller plays Roger, a hustler picked up by Sebastian. Both actors successfully alter voice and body language to suit these new roles.
The script by Nicky Silver is simultaneously clear yet complex, the American setting translating well to an Australian context. The cast adopt American accents without this coming across as contrived.