THEATRE – Between Two Waves – Bakehouse – 4.5K

Ellen Steele and Matt Crook

Ellen Steele and Matt Crook

By Peter Maddern

Daniel Wells (Matt Crook) is an up and coming academic in the vexed area of climate change. He has passion for his chosen work and his research causes him to stress about the future. Indeed, when the play opens, Daniel is staring into space scared and bewildered as he recounts the content of his recurring nightmares that seem to have a connection with the world’s existence.

Notwithstanding his focus, Daniel enjoys the company of Fiona (Ellen Steele), a secretary to the Government Department that Daniel gets a job with. Fiona is a modern woman, loud both verbally and sartorially, the sort who sees the world through her own goals. Another of her type is Grenelle (Elena Carapetis) who happens into Daniel’s world as the insurance assessor for the flood damage he claims has come from recent storms. Her aggression is directed at those who look to her to resolve their problems whilst disowning any responsibility for anything she actually does.

The play then takes us through a sometimes confusing interlocking of stories of Daniel and each of these ladies and his best mate from the Uni, Jimmy (James Edwards) as the past and the future play themselves out in a tussle, as Daniel describes it, ‘between beliefs and opportunity’. When Fiona, now his wife, gets pregnant, Daniel and she wrestle with whether having the child is the right thing.

James Edwards and Matt Crook

James Edwards and Matt Crook

While Matt Crook’s apparent age may belie the academic with the ’49 peer reviewed research papers’ he is portraying, everything else about his performance is masterful. No matter what levity he may bring to his conversations, Crook’s internalisation of a stress and worry borne of his research is scarily real; from the kick-off he looks haggard, wretched and strained. As the production reaches its conclusion, it becomes increasingly clear why he is like this. On stage almost throughout the play’s 110 minutes, Crook again shows why he is as good as any of his generation. One can only hope yet bigger opportunities soon await him.

Both the girls capture their characters excellently; a bombast and confidence that only papers over the frailty of their lives and emotions, while Edwards is serviceable as the academic only too keen to hide in his tower while telling everyone else what they should do.

Between Two Waves is essentially a battle between the two worlds of those who see life in a context and those born to milk what they can get out of it in pursuit of short term fulfilment, set against the current cause celebre climate change. But, to be sure it is not a cause play though Daniel’s extended summary of the climate change mantra near the end perhaps goes too far (but fortunately Crook rushes through it so quickly there is no risk of audience members getting to their feet in worship and praise.) As it turns its attention to the merits of bringing the next generation forward into it, the power if not the originality of Between Two Waves all gets amplified.

Using just one staging and judicious and most effective use of video, director Corey McMahon, (a fellow Flinders alum with Crook and Steele) keeps the story flowing and eventually allows the mysteries of the stories to both untwine and resolve themselves. But without Crook’s tour de force, all this good work may well have come undone. His is a compelling performance.

Kryztoff Rating   4.5K

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