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Tell Me Again

Eye of the Storm and Old 505 presents, TELL ME AGAIN, by Jeanette Cronin, at the Old 505 Theatre, Hibernian House, Level 5, 342 Elizabeth St, Central Railway, December 3 – 21, 2014.

TELL ME AGAIN by Jeanette Cronin is a new Australian play. It chronicles the relationship between Her (Jeanette Cronin) and Him (James Lugton). It is written in many, many short scenes (some, merely seconds long!) and in a cryptic, elliptical manner. In the program notes we read:

What if Memory and Dream fell in love, and left you stranded in a vortex of uncertainty, spiked with just enough clues to drag you deeper into corridors of familiar doors with no handles.

And, yes, there is, often, in this work, some tantalising familiarity of relationship ‘dropped’ for us – we do recognise some things: the corridors and the absence of handles to get out of them – in a higgledy-piggledy order. And, so, we attempt, while watching and listening, to impose order, in a kind of bewildered, but not irritated state, on what we are watching and hearing to decipher what is fact, what is fiction. We try to fit pieces of the puzzle into the jigsawed scene structure. Do we have the right pieces and are they from this puzzle? It is a pleasure to try to sort it out.

The writing by first time play author, Jeanette Cronin, is fascinating, and has the literary echoes, for me, of Harold Pinter (The Lover, Old Times etc) and Edward Albee (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Tiny Alice etc.) – two authors not to be blinked at and, to boot, gorgeous to listen to. So, also, here, thanks Ms Cronin. Add, to the creativity, staging by Michael Pigott (moonlighting, whilst performing in the STC, CYRANO DE BERGERAC – how does he do it?) and there is a visual coding/cluing, I think, of some highly sophisticated choreography going on – the taking off and putting on of clothing, all part of it. The production is further enhanced by some beautiful Lighting (especially for this tiny space) and Sound Design (no accreditation made, except that of Mr Pigott as Production Designer.)

Topping this are the two very arresting performances, with Jeanette Cronin, gliding, galloping, through the hoops of her own writerly obstacles with a kind of assured and secure rapture of absolute confidence for what is happening and where and when it is happening (as the writer of the play ought to be, I suppose) whilst Mr Lugton gives one of those truly centred and collected performances – a contrasted match for all the brittle emotions of his stage partner.

Do I know what was going on? Maybe. Did I find the doubts, confusion , a hindrance to the sixty minute occupation of my time? No, definitely not.

Welcome, to Ms Cronin’s other talent as a writer. One hopes it is not the last time we witness it. We have known her acting talent for some time and, nearly, always, are grateful for having been gifted it.