Writer Ian Meadows wants us to know we’re all going to die. Between Two Waves, directed by Jack Ballhausen for SUDS, rings all the alarm bells, and in all the right ways.
In this production, climate change and personal drama collide in a flurry of frustration and tension. Angela Colins and Kurt Dilweg
A: Charlie Falkner has a huge task in portraying Daniel, the show’s lead. He bears the most stage time and a mammoth responsibility not only to convey grand passages of memory and trauma, but also to effectively negotiate relationship drama, family tensions AND an apocalyptic fixation on climate change. The play’s philosophical inquiries all rest on Falkner’s portrayal of this troubled character, and he succeeds. Daniel grows beautifully and keeps the audience engaged.
K: It’s unsurprising that Falkner’s is a character crippled by anxiety. Daniel stutters, he fidgets, he hesitates, center stage. He is a real mess, and an arresting one; Falkner produces a character beyond the cheap jitterer. The entrance of Fiona (Kendra Murphy) relaxes his anxious cues, making him less distant and more empathetic, without effacing his eccentricity.
While there may be defensible groans at the shameless Manic Pixie Dream Girl in Fiona, the execution here is stellar. Zany in optimism and outfit, Murphy diffuses a boundless energy, colorfully chattering and cursing and howling and chuckling, building audience rapport and brilliantly filling in the wide silences chalked out by Daniel’s reticence. The pair quickly develop a charming, oddball romance that makes the most of the absurd, awkward and hilarious turns of dialogue offered by the script.
Daniel’s interactions with the other two characters were less memorable. But Dominic Scarf makes for a good college chum, bringing easy charisma, and Geneva Gilmour commendably characterizes an underwritten exercise in corporate-people-are-humans-too.
A: Ballhausen does justice to this complex Australian work. His influence is a watermark of nervous energy that permeates the entire production. The lucid use of lighting and projection (designed by Maddie Houlbrook-Walk) made what could have been a very long, two-hour, one-act play engaging and surprising.
Ballhausen’s approach to the dark themes of the play (climate change, abortion, anxiety, the dangers of social media, family trauma) is laudable, but the sheer amount of visual and aural media becomes overwhelming. Excess proves less effective than a couple of simple but effective motifs. The amount of visual “stuff” distracted from the quality of performances – particularly when characters directly engage with pre-recorded media.
K: Daniel’s later monologues reach a performative peak, with Falkner elegantly moving between grim cynic and emotional exasperation. His impassioned bursts of doomsday talk are imbued with all the mania and fear the subject could possibly warrant.
A: I was chilled by a transition where glistening, black puddles began to grow from the centre of the stage, underscored by a throbbing, ominous drone. This flooding motif could have served as a simple symbol around which the play’s other themes circulated.
Between Two Waves, like its principal character, comes to us raw and nervous and, for that boldness, we both thought the play was thrilling.