Reviews //

Not (Quite) Child’s Play

Noa Zulman reviews Montague Basement’s Tammy & Kite as part of the Sydney Fringe

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Photo courtesy of Zaina Ahmed Photography

Tammy & Kite is everything Fringe should be-; simple, intimate, and refreshingly honest. Montague Basement’s latest offering to the indie-theatre scene tells the tale of Kite (Caitlin West), a bright eyed, bushy tailed pre-schooler and her teenaged sister, Tammy (Hannah Cox). A deceptively vanilla story unfolds as an intricate exploration of the childhood psyche, the strength of sisterly love, and the pain of growing up.

Set against a backdrop of bookcases and kindergarten art, the intimacy of Erskineville Town Hall lends an eerie familiarity to the drama that unravels on stage. Hannah Cox’s comedic physicality is a delight to behold as she teases a naïve Kite with magic tricks and impersonations galore. Cox and West successfully evoke a sense of childhood nostalgia, their natural chemistry giving birth to some beautifully organic moments of vulnerability and innocence.

But this peace is short- lived. We begin to notice cracks within Kite’s seemingly ordinary existence- be it in an oddly violent game with her dolls, or a disconcerting monologue about her Mum. Shocking red and blue washes (courtesy of the eminently talented Saro Lusty- Cavallari) heighten this descent into confusion and childhood distress, as Kite’s flashes of rage begin to punctuate an easy relationship with her older sister. What was once a benign childhood puppet transforms into an imaginative tool through which Tammy and Kite can process the unspoken pain that simmers beneath the surface of this performance.

Josephine Gibson and Alexis Weaver are to be commended for the sound design that accompanies Kite’s descent into trauma and incomprehension; the overlay of concerned dialogue with punk-rock music serving to transform imaginary fears of ‘monsters under the bed’ into a terrifying reality. This dizzying soundscape when paired with the fresh vibrancy of Caitlin West’s performance delivers a small, albeit heartbreaking, truth that leaves the audience shivering and in a state of awed stupor.

Blurring the real with the imaginary, Tammy & Kite is a real treasure hidden amongst the line up that is Sydney Fringe. I would encourage you to see it, but alas, just like childhood, its time on stage has but passed in the blink of an eye.