Review By Lauren Donikian
As the name suggests, Flight Path Theatre in Marrickville has planes flying loud overhead, but even they could not drown out the deafening tension that played out during The Wasp. A play based on two characters that knew each other from school and after 20 years have re-connected. Whilst one seems to have everything and the other nothing at all one thing is clear. They share tortured histories.
Written by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm The Wasp questions the changes in friendships, the affects from being bullied in high school, and how familial situations shape the minds of children early on. It is a cleverly written play that whilst funny at times is a terrifyingly accurate representation of what people are capable of when they are pushed to their limits.
This two-hander is produced by Crying Chair Theatre, with its founders starring in the show. Emma Dalton plays Carla, a mother of five who is struggling to make ends meet and Mel Day plays Heather, a well to do woman with a plan for Carla. Dalton is a very present actor. A lot of her role is to listen and Dalton actively does that, always staying in the moment and not straying from her characters impulses. She somehow manages to make us care about this character, even though we have no reason to. Day, who plays the role of Heather seems like a tough nut to crack. Her choice of playing the character distant, controlled, and intense is a real departure from what we have seen in Dalton. She is measured, and calculated which makes it hard to empathise with her character, but it is understandable given her characters past and what she has been exposed to. Special credit goes to Day, as she has so many lines to remember that at times it felt like a one woman show. The two work well together and manage to make it feel deeply intimate. It feels like they are in their own world trying to manoeuvre their way through it. They are not afraid to get in each other’s faces and even when one of them faces away from the audience the emotions are expressed clearly in their body, so it somehow still feels connected.
The scene is kept very simple throughout, with yellow curtains, two white chairs with cushions and wooden accents and a very cute tea set. As the location changes a table and rug are added and insect taxidermy is exposed behind one of the curtains. Yes, there is a wasp there. The lighting is soft, with blackouts occurring at the end of each act. The costumes while not obvious, do show a difference in the class status of the two characters.
To see a play with two female leads who are both strong in character despite their suffering is quite endearing. The foreshadowing was by far my favourite part of this play and whilst triggering at times due to talk of infidelity, bullying and sexual assault one thing became clear. How you handle yourself after dealing with these issues can either be kind or hard. You decide.