SUDS’ ‘Sublimation Part One’ is thought-provoking and entertaining

Student theatre goes Freudian in this compilation show

WHAT: SUDS’ Sublimation Part One
WHERE: The Cellar Theatre
WHEN: 5 — 8 April

I love misquoting Freud. It’s a hobby of mine. I’ve talked about it in the pages of Honi before, but this time, I want to do something a little different. And “a little different” is how I’d characterise SUDS’ Sublimation Part One — a veritable tasting platter of SUDS’ delightful troubadours. Sublimation is this year’s instalment of SUDS’ massive yearly performance gala, designed to showcase student writers, actors, directors and designers. So to misquote Wikipedia misquoting Freud, “in psychology, sublimation is when socially unacceptable impulses are unconsciously transformed into socially acceptable ones.” And this is a common theme of the nine different productions on display in Sublimation Part One — each piece thought-provoking, entertaining, and occasionally confronting.

Kicking off the evening was Macbeth, directed by Max Melzer. Nehir Hatipoglu, Cheryn Li and Sophie Seper were vibrant as the Three Witches, complemented by Jeremi Campese’s commanding Macbeth. Their classic portrayal of Act IV set the mood and standard for the night to come.

Balancing the headiness of Shakespeare, Ruby Willis shone as both actress and director alongside Zelda Winestock in Jeanette D. Farr’s A Growing Problem, whose warm rapport was in equal parts heartfelt and comedic.

Riley Dolahenty and Rachel Drubetsky perfectly captured the awkwardness and “deer in the headlights” feeling of arguments with your ex as Greg and Steph in Niel Labute’s Reasons to be Happy, directed by Jane Hughes.

Jeremi Campese appeared again with Sophie Seper in Max Peacock’s take on Harold Pinter’s The Applicant. This piece stood out as the most viscerally confronting, with masterful use of dramatic tension, white noise and lighting, the audience under siege like The Applicant’s protagonist.

Christopher Hampton’s Les Liasons Dangereuses, directed by Bob He, offset the previous piece’s darkness with frivolity and charm. The on-stage chemistry of Sarah Chang and Henry Barlow as the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont was witty and alluring.

Harriet Lugsdin brought a little bit of Australiana to the night with Rachael Wright, Julian Merkle and Ben Tan in Debra Oswald’s Gary’s House. Nothing like a few tinnies of VB, some DIY carpentry and a little bit of Strine on stage.

Next up was Lizz Diggin’s treatment of David Auburn’s Proof. Maddy Ghandi and Lizzie Westbrook brought sincerity and feeling to a deeply emotional scene, tugging at the audience’s heartstrings. The gala continued to play with the audience, balancing light with dark, and profundity with reality.

Victoria Boult injected some levity into the proceedings with Theresa Rebeck’s Frank and Katie. While it’s hard to pick a favourite, this piece really stood out for me. Julian Hollis and Helen Smith were scintillating as the eponymous duo –skilful and darkly funny.

Finally, we ended as we started — with Shakespeare’s As You Like It, directed by Bec Attanasio and starring Niamh Gallagher and Zara Jones. Zara and Niamh’s performance was lighthearted and spirited – the perfect end to a great night.

Sublimation Part One is a lively exhibition of student acting and directing expertise. Keep an eye out for Sublimation Part Two from the 12th to the 15th.