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Review: The intriguing case of the silent forest at La Mama Theatre

By Jenna Schroder

The intriguing case of the silent forest is, in itself, an intriguing production.

An engaging start, using movement and sound, unravels into mystery lead half by the plot and half by confusion.

The chorus can rarely be understood and the inconsistent accents across the cast and individually, with protagonist Josephine played by Kathleen Doyle chopping and changing between neutral Australian and a southern American brawl, create a wall between audience and story.

Once the narrative gets going, things become clearer; a group of investigators are searching for Josephine. They believe she has murdered her sister. But the method of this murder is what's getting the small town up in a flurry; Josephine’s sister has had her tongue cut out. And others are swiftly being added to the body count. What Detective Rob, played by the production’s writer and director Matthew Crosby, and his team are trying to find out is - Why?

The set is bare but evocative in part due to the fact there’s much movement around the space. However this choreography of the cast is often loud, drowning out the plot and character development.

This, teamed with the cast themselves changing the set’s lighting for dramatic effect, creates a sense of clunkiness that draws attention away from the action. However, the concepts behind this production’s lighting are innovative and, when further developed, promise to add a different element to theatrical storytelling.

Kathleen Doyle transforms into the young, awkward and pained Josephine. Her prowess as a storyteller evident in the production’s climax. The cast support and frame her experiences both present, future and imaginary.

Despite some questions being answered, many more remain a mystery when the lights turn back on.

This production is a long winding story that, hanging on by the mystery of its plot, eventually finds it feet. However the intriguing choices of this collaborative work don’t always land.

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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