THEATRE: Maggie Stone – STCSA – Space Theatre – 4K

SMA Kryztoff banner Nov 13 100dpiPhoto by Matt NettheimMaggie Stone (Kris McQuade) works for a bank, evaluating potential borrowers for small loans. She has quite clearly been around the block a couple of times and knows that life isn’t all puppies and rainbows. After her refusal to grant Precious Deng (Shedrick Yarkpai) money leads to him making a decision that has tragic consequences, Maggie finds herself unexpectedly involved in the lives of his wife Amath (Sara Zwangobani),teenage son Benedict (Shedrick Yarkpai again, showing his versatility) and baby daughter Grace.

In the cavernous world of the Space Theatre, the stage is filled with a cleverly designed maze of wooden planks and mirrors (Victoria Lamb). From within this web, the various settings appear. The scene changes, performed in half light and accompanied by an atmospheric soundtrack (Andrew Howard) somewhat reminiscent of eighties video games, are swift and precise. This provides an adaptable space for director Geordie Brookman to allow the characters’ stories to take centre stage.

In Maggie, playwright Caleb Lewis has created a character that is extensively flawed yet somehow still likeable. McQuade instils in her a realistic mix of cynicism, compassion and racism. Maggie is someone who could easily be your relation, your neighbour, or your colleague. This doesn’t mean that her behaviour isn’t cringe-worthy at times, but it is always authentic. Yarkpai matches McQuade in truth, able to move between loving father, sullen teenager, hooligan baddie and empathetic object of circumstances, with easy and believability. Zwangobani also gives a strong performance as the resilient Amath, who has already faced so much in her life but is still determined to work with what she’s got and forge ahead on her own steam.

Photo by Matt NettheimAnsuya Nathan does well as both the convenience store proprietor Mahira, who has come to Australia to make a life for her and her family through hard work and cannot fathom the attitude of Benedict, and the ethnic (though probably Australian born) doctor who deals admirably with Maggie’s less than respectful attitude. As loan shark Leo Hermes, Mark Saturno doesn’t quite physically fit the stereotype but excells in the slimy stakes and creates an interesting character. It challenges the expected and highlights that it is often in the more mundane and unimposing individuals that the danger lies. Rounding out the cast, Genevieve Mooy, is Georgina, Amath’s friend from church, in whom we witness the desire to be doing “the right thing” while also suffering from naivety in relation to the realities of those she is trying to help and an inherent selfishness that is almost inevitable in today’s society.

This is an Adelaide story and it’s excellent to see a play that doesn’t shy away from setting its action in our city and making very specific references to this. It is woven throughout the prose in a way that provides pleasing shout-outs for locals while also not being too pervasive to alienate interstate or international audiences. The writing is pleasingly naturalistic, though occasional phrases do stick out as less than genuine.

This is a play about the people in our community and the attitudes that make up our society. It will make you question your own views and actions, and remind you that there is always more going on than you may appreciate.

Kryztoff Rating: 4K

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