In a school room on a small island, two strangers meet. Dan (Finn den Hertog) has come to the remote community in search of the town of his grannie’s tales, while Sunna (Hannah Donaldson) is the local teacher – a born and bred islander, who doesn’t take kindly to interfering city boys. Over the course of an hour, Breaker explores ideas of community, folklore, family, hopelessness, and the often gaping divide between memories and reality.
This is a Scottish/Icelandic co-production, from writer Salka Gudmundsdottir, and the depressingly beautifully feeling of the piece reflects its origins. Under the direction of Graeme Maley, Austin and Wood give solid and engrossing performances; though Austin’s volume could be moderated in the earlier parts of the interchange and Sunna’s anger allowed to build more slowly over the course of the show. Both actors face the challenge of creating characters that progressively reveal the personal demons necessary for an intriguing plot-line, without seeming clichéd. They achieve the balance well. However, Austin does seem rather youthful given the history of her character and this also makes the contempt she shows for Dan’s age somewhat odd.
On the technical side of things, the set is sparse and the movement appropriately minimal. Atmospheric sounds add to the eeriness of the piece. The low lighting, while suitable for the mood, was distracting at times – although parts of the action necessarily occur in semi-darkness, other segments seemed insufficiently illuminated. As such, you are left focusing most heavily on the dialogue, which is engrossing, and this may be the intention. However, the consistent darkness fails to create an effective contrast in the specifically dimly-lit portions, or allow the audience to see the tacit aspects of the actors’ performances.
This is another high-quality production at Holden Street, which offers strong performances, interesting subject matter and an opportunity to think, feel and contemplate.
Kryztoff Rating: 4K