Review: Dreams in White
SYDNEY: Stirring performances led by Andrew McFarlane brings this thought-provoking Griffin Theatre Company play about secret identities to life, writes Veronica Hannon.
Who is Michael Devine? He is an older, white male who likes to sweeten his grapefruit with a sprinkle of sugar. He is a successful money juggler, living in a very wealthy world. A devoted husband and loving father, he is respected within his community. In his own mind, he is one of the people who matter and there are many people who don’t. He’s actually a bit of a prick, but a riveting portrayal by Andrew McFarlane in the central role goes a long way in making this a gripping 80 minutes in the theatre.
Writer Duncan Graham might have been inspired by the real story of slain millionaire Herman Rockefeller who vanished in January 2010 but his play stands on its own. Graham has crafted a thriller packed with tension filled scenes about a man used to making decisions who makes a bad one. Michael Devine answers an ad in a swinger’s magazine, misreads the situation when he turns up for a sex romp and ends up dead. What follows is the unravelling of the different identities he has built for himself. Meanwhile his wife and daughter try to withstand the assaults on their privacy as the press seek to feed a public hungry for gossip and scandal.
Designer Teresa Negroponte’s set of grey walls and floors with a white opaque sliding door seems to defy the picturesque world in which the Devine’s reside but is apt given Graham wants to place you inside the emotional limbo in which his character’s live. The artful lighting by Hartley T A Kemp and eerie sound composition by Kelly Ryall also lend support to Tanya Goldberg’s tight direction.
Still this production is made memorable by the superb acting and chemistry amongst the cast. Lucy Bell, Mandy McElhinney and Steve Rodgers move elegantly and deftly between roles giving weight to Graham’s theme of the fluidity of identity. Sara West is also effective as Devine’s 17-year-old daughter Amy, played by the young actor with a nuanced mix of defiance and raw vulnerability.
But as I hinted at the outset this show belongs to McFarlane. It is his brave performance that makes this show a must-see.
[Image] Dreams in White ... Andrew McFarlane. Photo: Brett Boardman
Dreams In White, Griffin Theatre Company, SBW Stable Theatre, Kings Cross. Until March 24. Bookings: griffintheatre.com.au