Reviewed by Tatum Stafford
The Blue Room’s ‘Summer Nights’ Fringe program is always a highlight of the festival – and I felt very fortunate to catch a performance of ‘Conception’, a powerful play written by Lainey O’Sullivan.
Set in a dystopian-esque future, the play centres around Anna (Lainey O’Sullivan) and Chris (Shaun Johnston), a loving couple who have registered for the Government’s Conception program.
When Ruth (Asha Cornelia Cluer) arrives unannounced at their apartment, we soon learn that she is their assigned surrogate and is having some complications - and from there, matters become more complicated by the minute.
There is a lot to love about this show. For one, the characters are incredibly well fleshed-out, and each actor works in perfect harmony with one another. Being in such an intimate space, it was a real treat to watch each actor do what they do best up close. Particular shot-out to O’Sullivan’s perturbed facial expressions at a particular point in the show (if you know, you know).
All three actors play remarkably well off of each other, and the palpable chemistry between them makes for an electric atmosphere.
It also demonstrates some very clever staging within the space. When we pored into the room, a side door was lit and utilised sound effects to make it sound like a shower, and look like shadows were huddling in it, which carried into the space when the play started and the couple walked out in towels. Having only one location, the couples’ apartment, works really well when it comes to building tension amongst the three characters, and displaying shifts of power as the plotline progresses.
The show is incredibly well written, and provides wonderful depth and insight into each of its characters and the world they inhabit. This is supported beautifully with Scarlet Davis’ dramaturgy, strong direction by Samuel Bruce, lighting design by Adelaide Harney and sound design by David Stewart; the latter of which comes into play during some of the play’s tensest moments.
I sadly caught this show on its second last night, but I’d urge you to check out Lainey O’Sullivan’s work in the future. I’m very hopeful that ‘Conception’ will not be her only season at The Blue Room or other venues in Perth.