Courtney Rose Brown
Tucked away on the second story of The Third Eye is an intimate seating block, a sparse stage with a table, an armchair and a bookcase scattered with books. Setting up a familiar space, such as an office, where we soon learn that the man is an editor. Here, it feels like we are part of the story that he is building and rewriting, trying to find the right details and moments along the way to get us to remember her.
Green is charming and soft. He retells his memories fondly, and there’s something about the look in his eyes that makes you want everything to be okay for him. His comfortability on stage makes him feel familiar, and when he interacts with the audience, not only does his desire to connect is there but his inability to do so as well. We never quite meet his expectations, his gaze never quite lands on any of us as he asks us to comb our fingers through our hair or to close our eyes and imagine.
Lost in memory, in time, and in feelings, there’s the underlying fear that he and May will never meet again, at least not in the way he desires. It’s a love that’s easy to buy into; their immediate infatuation and his dedication to her memory, in love after a month, which lead to him selling his car so he could support her dreams half-way across the world. To which she says is stupid, but the honesty of it is endearing.
Tse’s words are silver threads on storm clouds as she stitches a delicate mix of light and dark of his journey, choosing to change the direction when tears are suddenly close to falling or laughter’s still hanging hanging off smiles. This combined with Cain’s direction that weaves together the cracks in Green’s composure, and question his reality. At a few points, Green exits to get a glass of water, still talking to us offstage and it feels like we’re in his lounge on the mismatched furniture in the audience and we’re fully in his world and his mind.
The relatable characterisation of Green and May interweaved with the poetry hits home and pulls you under. Sorrow sows its way into our bones and as he cries, so do we. As he tells us of May’s hunt for new things after she lost what she loved in a career changing moment, he searches for all the old things after he lost her. The specificity of May–her collection of driftwood, seawater sprinkled on the garden, boxes of watercolours–makes you fall in love with the complexity of her as he does.
Will Evans’ ambient and soothing music design matched with Tony Black’s diffuse lighting design starkly divides the memories and realities. The greens and blues of the ocean provide a fantastical feel to the exploration of the past are complementary to the melodious music with a sharp undertone. The warmth of oranges bring us back into the present with only Green’s voice guiding us, where the music fades. The design elements help smooth the twists and turns of his memories, helping with the pacing.
There’s a pressure placed on the man on how important it is to remember and what it means not to forget what love is. Under takes us on a cleansing and intelligent journey of a memory game. As the lights fade to black, there’s a stillness in the air and in this moment. We are all grieving over love, exhaling pain out in a final breath that’s meet with rapturous applause.
Under is currently showing at The Third Eye, 30 Arthur Street, until Saturday 11 November. You can book tickets through Red Scare’s website.