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September 12, 2014 / Amy Bradney-George

The Lion’s Bride

I find the organic nature of performances hard to capture in one viewing or moment, which is why I rarely post my own theatre reviews. But I’ve made an exception in this case. I’ve worked with innātum Theatre before and I’m a big supporter of the company’s aims and ambition. This particular work also moved me and, as a piece intended to be toured to school shows, I thought a review of my experience could be useful for people studying Harwood’s work (or those interested in it).

 

IMG_1265Great poetry is a sensory experience: at times it will evoke sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touch and personal memories. Australian poet Gwen Harwood’s body of work does all of these things, giving readers a glimpse into her reality as well as new facets of their own lives.

So when I heard about innātum Theatre’s production of The Lion’s Bride I was intrigued by how Harwood’s poetry would be translated and conveyed on a stage.

The show is an exploration of Harwood’s work, with director Tammie Kite bringing Harwood’s poetry and personal context to life through a series of songs and scenes that fit easily into the worlds Harwood herself created.

The cast – Amanda Knight, Gareth Trew and Déborrah “Moogy” Morgan – skilfully move between heightened realities in a way that is real, theatrical and poetic by turns.

Music by Hannah Riley both enhances the worlds on the stage and supports the transitions between them, with Déborrah “Moogy” Morgan’s musical performance both lifting the notes from the page and adding to the atmosphere within this work.

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A lot of the discussions about Harwood’s personal context focus on her relationships with men. She was a women who challenged the system with her pseudonyms, and also championed and subverted love in her poems.

There’s a beautiful tension in her work that was highlighted in innātum’s production of The Lion’s Bride through the chemistry between Knight and Trew. Though these two actors play various roles throughout the piece, the strength of their connection is a constant, making the shifting stories and dynamics even more fascinating to explore.

 

Image credits: James Lee

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