Review by Kate Gaul
New Ghosts Theatre Company present a newly minted play “Hush” at Flightpath theatre. Written by Ciella Williams and directed by Lucy Clements this new work offers an entirely fitting female perspective on birthing and babies – why have them, is anyone ever really ready for motherhood and the pain of loss when your dreams can’t come true.
Inside a Darwin natal hospital two young women prepare to give birth. An outstanding Zoe Jensen brings humour, daring and grit to the role of Ainsley. Ainsley is waiting for a C-section given that her feisty baby won’t turn around. She’s got a bastard for a partner who is denying paternity. A straight talking, practical woman who genuinely befriends the less stable Nina.
Clementine Anderson has a tricky job in her role of difficult patient Nina. Bed bound, wrestling with her unknown future (should she keep the premature baby?) and dropping in and out of reality, Nina is a the mercy of forces she can’t always control. As the play takes a while to get off the ground and Nina’s dilemma is the centre of the drama it’s a tribute to Clementine Anderson’s talent that we still care about Nina after a long 80 minutes or so when the character has so little agency.
Nina’s mum is played by Sasha Dyer. She’s an illusion who appears to her daughter. Her function is to be a sounding board for Nina’s options as Nina revisits her past and a typically turbulent mother-daughter relationship. Another visitor is friend Bee (an excellent Stella Ye). She’s a fun loving, free spirited hit-the-road type girl who’s all for Nina giving up the baby. But on her second visit she’s badly battered and bruised. It is left to the audience to decide whether this is an illusion or not – a possible future for Nina or an unresolved, violent event of the past?
No play set in a hospital would be complete without a nurse. In “Hush” we have an engaging Rachael Chisholm - a nurse helping Nina with the immediate medical situation but also with making a decision about a termination, adoption or Nina’s keeping the child. But this is a nurse with a desperate need for a child herself, which complicates her nurse-patient relationships. Rachel Chisholm adeptly created a world outside the hospital room; a deep and hidden need; and a professional softness and caring that helped give the sense that time was moving on outside the waiting game inside the hospital room.
“Hush” is about choices and forgiveness. It shines a light on one of life’s great mysteries and miracles – that of childbirth. The work is sensitively directed by Lucy Clements. Ciella Williams’ dialogue is easy and feels truthful in the mouths of this array of characters. The play, however, plods through the various dilemmas of each character before getting to the crux of the dramatic conflicts. It’s great to get a new work up in front of an audience – you see what you’ve got. I’d take this one back to the drawing board for a restructure, edit and polish
Image Credit: Clare Hawley