Theatre Works, one of Australia’s longest-running independent theatres, is a self-proclaimed “champion” of contemporary Australian theatre, whose aim is to provide an “artistic home and destination for the ambitious, the new and the distinguished”. Upon visiting there, I would have to say their vision and mission statement definitely rang true, as they put on one of the most though-provoking and understatedly clever productions I’ve had the privilege of watching.
Sadie Hasler’s name is one that has been on my mind since I saw her play, Pramkicker, at Theatre Works last month. The production was so well-written that it has left me eager to see what else is on the horizon for the playwright.
As a twenty-something woman, who is currently trying to focus on my work and getting through university, I am already feeling the societal pressure, as every family reunion or catchup with an old friend is swiftly turned into a deep-dive exploration into my future plans, punctuated with the questions “do you want kids, and if so, when?” So I was instantly drawn to this play from the second I read its synopsis, and was eager to meet the frustrated and ever-so-relatable Jude, who is grappling with these issues on a crippling scale.
Of course, any well-written play still needs standout actors to bring its content to life, and Pramkicker had talent in spades. Jude was played by Anna Burgess, who was so compelling and exciting to watch that I struggled to take my eyes off her as she navigated the subject matter, taking the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions that had us laughing until our sides hurt, but crying a second later.
Complementing Anna’s Jude was Amy May Nunn’s Susie – Jude’s younger sister, who saw the world with a more optimistic set of eyes but still struggled with her own personal demons. Susie was an extremely complex character in her own right, which Amy played to perfection, but further to her acting credit, she was tasked with playing every other supporting role in the production that Jude meets along her journey. When I say Amy May Nunn has range, I cannot oversell it. Trying to follow a play where 90% of the characters are played by the same person sounds difficult in theory, but through the use of different accents, mannerisms and other acting techniques, Amy managed to craft each character with such individuality that you never found yourself questioning which one you were watching at any given time.
As a whole, the play was engaging, at times challenging, and had you rooting for its characters from the second it began (even if they behaved questionably at times), and if it had run longer I would have loved to have gone back and watched it again just to get to experience it all over a second time.
I get so much joy from witnessing powerful and talented women take up space in the art world, and this female-led production is a true testament to what they are capable of. Now that the world is starting to open up, I highly recommend checking out Sadie, Anna and Amy to see what else they are working on in the future, because they are ones to watch out for in the performance sphere.