Tender Napalm is a dynamic play by English storyteller Philip Ridley bought to life in the Holden Street Theatre by Scuti Productions. Under the razor-sharp direction of Rachael Williams, Man and Woman (played brilliantly by Mark Healy and Carol Lawton) act out a veritable storybook of fantastic tales.
The set is simple, stark and effective. As the audience take their seats, Man and Woman are embracing; their brightly lit, stark white clothing dramatically contrasting with the debris surrounding them. Broken furniture is piled high and it would appear as though the couple are in the aftermath of a shipwreck of sorts. The audience and the actors seem equally unaware of each other.
A slow steady beat engulfs the room as the lights go out. Immediately there is virtual Tsunami of graphic sexual expression. Lighting and thunder all around; effectively portraying the inner turmoil in this emotionally charged relationship.
Drunken nights of passion release pent up aggression; there is a yin yang symbiosis within this relationship.
The stories weave around various fantasy worlds, effectively painted with a tight combination of lighting (Bob Weatherly), mood music (Moses Monro) and particularly by the effective storytelling abilities of both the two leads. Both are on stage for the full 80-minute running of the play and never break from character, even when the other is in the spotlight. They are the king and queen of their fantasy island. Healy and Lawton also have a believable mutual passion.
The play explores different facets of life, love and relationships such as the role of the inner child, the personal chains that bind and the ability to stand back and admire the beautiful view outside. Expressions of love are intertwined with expressions of hate. Yet in the end it all comes back together and the circle of life is complete.
The Scuti Productions adaption of Tender Napalm is finely executed and an example of the young talent currently producing film and stage in South Australia. This is a triumphal execution of a deep and thought provoking play.
REVIEW SCORE: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Image Credit: Matthew Abregana
19 – 29 June 2019
Wednesdays – Saturdays @ 8pm nightly
Venue: The Studio
34 Holden Street, Hindmarsh