Review By Lauren Donikian
As you enter 5 Eliza you are ushered into a museum like store filled with lost things like animal skulls, dolls, and a stuffed peacock. Towards the back of the museum is an apothecary, where you can enjoy the mixture of liquids that will heal any ailments you may have. There are images of eyes hanging on the walls and a straight red line of light that guides you up the stairs and into the space where Darkness is about to play out.
Black and white marble covers the floor, candles are alight, and pews are placed in a round for the audience to sit in. It feels like you are in a church which is ironic, because once you hear the story of the five friends you realise there is nothing pure or chaste about them. We witness this at different times throughout the play as the group of friends share their stories with us in monologues providing insights into who they are and why they act the way that they do. We see these dysfunctional friends interact with each other, sometimes just two of them speaking about how they feel towards each other but majority of the time the whole cast is on display. Whether they have climbed the stairs to sit amongst the audience or are watching from one of the entry points you can tell these people have been through a lot together.
A white bath can be seen as you enter the room, a not-so-subtle hint that these friends need their sins need to be washed away. Rounded frosted windows with black grilles surround the room, sometimes used as doors and there are lamps lit in blue hanging from the ceiling. The colour of the lamps change throughout the performance, from red to white and at times are completely out. It is called Darkness after all. Thunderclaps, and soft music plays throughout with smoky haze that fills the room.
It has a gothic feel which is enhanced by the costumes, all black so as not to be seen in the shadows. There are stand out performances by Imogen Sage who plays Claire and Alec Snow who plays Byron. Both deeply committed to character, and it feels like Claire and Byron have allowed them to set themselves free in some way. That they are empowered by these characters and explore every emotion in the 100-minute play. Zoran Jevtic who plays Polidori moves his body in a way that is mesmerising to watch. Somewhere between pain and ecstasy, he makes you feel it all.
This is theatre as you’ve never seen it before, it begins the second you enter the building, where you are taken away from the hustle and bustle of Newtown into a world that doesn’t see the sun. It is intense, thought provoking and raw. It is a moving piece and explores some challenging issues and asks its audience to question their life choices and their mortality. I left feeling breathless as if I was holding my breath for the length of the play, and realised that Darkness stands for so many things. The darkness within us, the darkness we place on others and the uncertainty of what could be out there and what is to come. We are blinded by our past, but this play permitted me to open my eyes for the future.