Author: Polly Stenham
Summary: "Shatteringly powerful - a remarkable and unforgettable piece of theatre."
Soon after his parents divorced, Henry dropped out of school to take care of his prescription drug and alcohol addicted mother, Martha. They spend their time together as he works at his art and Martha stumbles through the day. She adores and needs him in equal measure, as her alcohol abuse and instability drive her to behaviours that are more akin to those of an angry wife than a nurturing parent.
Henry's younger sister, Mia, is at boarding school and, as far as Martha is concerned, well out of the way. At the opening of the play, Mia and an older school friend are involved in a boarding school initiation 'prank' that goes badly wrong. Mia is suspended, pending expulsion and sent home. But 'home' is with her mother who doesn't hide the fact that Mia is not welcome, interrupting the intense and singular relationship between her and Henry, now aged 18.
Contacted by the school, Hugh, their absentee father, returns from Hong Kong, complete with cheque book, to 'sort it out'. But he is shocked by what he discovers. What it is that his neglect and Martha's manipulation have wrought on their children? It becomes inescapably apparent that money will no longer be enough. In a scene described as "a Niagara Falls with every piece of water rushing towards the inevitable moment of 'going over the edge'" Martha too is finally forced to make her choice.
The play moves back and forth between Mia's school, a hospital ward, a restaurant and Hugh's business apartment, but always returns to Henry's room - the focus of the relationships and the place where finally the family must face the reality they have all tried to avoid for far too long.
"Remarkably confident and exuberantly theatrical. Crammed with startling images, ferocious cruelty and pitch-black humour, it is insolent, audacious, witty and wise." (The Times)
That Face was written in 2007 when the playwright was 19 years old. It had its debut at the Royal Court Theatre and went straight to an extremely successful West End run. It is already on the education syllabus in the UK and in several states in Australia. The script is modern, tough, uncompromising and edgy, making for an extremely powerful drama.
"One of the most astonishing debuts I have seen in more than thirty years of theatre reviewing - a remarkable and unforgettable piece of theatre." (Daily Telegraph)
Dates and times: Wednesday 6 to Saturday 9 April 2011 at 8 pm, Sunday 10 April at 3 pm, Tuesday 12 and Wednesday 13 April at 6.30 pm, Thursday 14 to Saturday 16 April at 8 pm
Ticket prices: $22 waged adults, $20 seniors, unwaged adults and tertiary students, $15 Stagecraft members and high-school students with valid ID. Two tickets for $22 on the first Thursday for all ticket categories. Early bird discount: book for the first week of the play and get $2 off the full ticket price ($20 instead of $22).
Cast in order of appearance:
Crew: Iona Anderson (director), Joy Hellyer (production manager), Sarah Wood (assistant production manager), Gillian Boyes, Jane Arthur (stage manager), Julia McEnteer (assistant stage manager), Robyn Sadlier (rehearsal prompt), David Murray (lighting designer), Luke Gumbley (lighting operator), Tanya Piejus (sound designer), Shaun Wilson (sound operator), Shannon Anderson (wardrobe coordinator), Stephen Fearnley (set construction coordinator), Steve Preston (props coordinator), Paul Sadlier, Angela Millar, Jan Lippert (props assistant), Jack Wass (photographer), Scenario Communications (poster and flyer design), Amy Whiterod (front of house manager)
Review: See below for Ewen Coleman's review
Last updated 2 November 2013