Review by Olivia Ruggiero
Grain of Sand is a new, insightful, and engaging Australian play by Declan Coyle currently playing its world premiere at Kings Cross Theatre. The production leaves you contemplating life, morality and human rights as the audience is called upon in the final moments of the play to decide the fate of the protagonist.
Grain of Sand forces us to question our justice system and our stance on invading someone’s privacy. The unconventional formatting of the play can be a little incohesive at times, but Coyle’s dialogue feels authentic and his unique style shines in this piece. The use of audience participation doesn’t feel forced but rather draws you further into the story. Those final moments leave your heart pounding, adrenaline coursing through your veins as you sweat the decision that ultimately decides the fate of character you have come to sympathise with or detest. Coyle’s script does feel like it’s pointing the audience in a certain direction at times, but never-the-less, the drama and atmosphere he creates is impressive.
Margaret Thanos’ clever and well thought out direction is what makes this production so special. She builds the world so precisely that the audience can instantly recognise the place and the moment the actors are in. Her creation is only aided by the excellence of Sophie Pekblimli’s lighting design – simple yet incredibly effective at creating mood and allowing the audience to recognise place and time. Akesiu Poitaha creates a brilliant soundscape. There is rarely a moment when her sound design is not heard throughout the show – it does wonders to create further tension and bring tension to the piece. The set design fits the space and the constrains of an independent production. A show like this would be interesting a larger space, with a larger budget and the ability to have different sets for every different place within the show. The vast blackness at KXT can be daunting for a set designer but Kaitlin Symons does well to fill the space and still create enough atmosphere to work with Pekblimli’s excellent lighting.
Kelly Robinson shines in her role. She is wonderfully authentic, believable, her movements are precise and her choices are clear. She establishes herself from the minute she walks onto the stage, she owns the space. It is hard to take your eyes off of Robinson but Enoch Li holds his own against her. Some of his choices are less authentic but his chemistry with Robinson forces the audience to be incredibly engaged. His diction was questionable at times which can be frustrating as an audience member when so much of the show and the decision at the end, hinges on what he has to say. Susanna Pang takes a while to get use too. It’s hard to decide whether or not you like or believe her – but half way through the show you begin to understand her choices and appreciate the cleverness of what she has established. It isn’t her job to be likeable or completely understood – she personifies the moral ambiguity that the show is attempting to tackle.
Queen Hades Productions storms onto the Sydney Independent scene with this show. It is a wonderful show already and with time it will become brilliant or even exceptional. King Cross Theatre consistently seems to deliver great work and this show is no different. It’s definitely worth your time and the price of a ticket.