Photo by Victor Kalka
A View of Concrete began in darkness. And from that darkness emerged four characters – Billy, Jacquie, Neil, and James – through which the play painted a world overwhelmed by smog, death, paranoia, and sadness.
The backdrop had been coloured in greys, browns, whites and purples, and spoke to the dreariness of a world corrupted by corporate greed and paranoia. The floor too had been made to look like cement, cold and bleak.
The audience found out quickly that ‘all the animals are killing themselves’. Dogs consumed one another, a cat hung itself on a loose piece of green twine, a bird collided with a closed window, and the characters too, were slowly destroying themselves before our eyes.
The motifs within the play, the books without covers that Neil reads, and the drugs they all take – ketamine, acid, and speed – are simply a means of escape from a world consumed by pollution and corruption.
It was overheard that the USU may have accidentally flicked the switch on the lights, and that there was a chance that the many lights – which had all been painstakingly put in by the crew – would not work. However, this didn’t appear to be an issue. The cues from the lighting designer, Annita Stark, were impeccable; all perfectly timed and added so much depth to the performance.
I found myself flinching away from Neil when he flung his cup of bourbon at the floor, and from James as he beat his defenceless girlfriend. Even the errors which the actors made – Neil using his own name when meaning to referring to James – were quickly corrected and did not detract from the immersion at all.
A View of Concrete left very little to be desired. The story of escape, drugs and paranoia, shown under a sky lit by artificial stars, spoke to the sadness of our contemporary world where the media, like that within the play, “were the creators of global conflict”.
It was a performance that lived up to its full potential, and one that everyone should see if they can.
As director Tabitha Woo said, ‘it is vital that we continue to find human connection, empathy and creativity together’, because without it our world may as well be one made of cold, hard concrete.