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Morgan Stern

Photo by Chrissie Ianssen

Company of Rogues present MORGAN STERN, by Gina Schien, in the Downstairs Theatre Belvoir, Belvoir St Theatre. July1 – 2.

MORGAN STERN an hour long monologue-play by Gina Schien, was presented earlier in the year and is now preparing to tour to the Edinburgh Festival.

Morgan Stern is haunted by THE GENT. The Gent a mysterious figure from the English Georgian era is some 221 years old, is part ghost, part protector, and has been been assigned to minister to Morgan, a young Sydneysider living with schizophrenia. Both The Gent and Morgan are struggling with memories, hauntings of ‘madness’ and institutions. Ms Schien is writing from an intimate exploration of schizophrenia, family and the search for internal peace, having lived an experience with her own brother. There is complexity in the rapidly shifting narrative across centuries and countries (hemispheres) and in the writing has an urgency and power in its unravelling.

Under the Direction of Goldele Rayment, with a vividly supporting Sound Design by Tegan Nicholls, Graeme Rhodes presents Morgan Stern. There is intelligent imagination going on here, but the skills to deliver the demands of the writing are limited to a narrow range of expression, both physically and, especially, vocally. Resultantly, the storytelling offers tend to flatten out and fails to keep one sufficiently stimulated, engaged or concerned. The vital risk of monologue performing – is the need for the actor to emanate an internal energy that activates and radiates, for a reaching out to engage the audience with the storyteller. The audience must be irresistibly drawn to the actor and absorbed into the need to hear the dilemma of the character. Mr Rhodes tends to ‘blur’ his tasks and fails to clearly demarcate the many different characters of his story. He rather insists that we go to him. Mr Rhodes, at this performance, failed to startle us, to galvanise us to ‘travel’ with The Gent’s or Morgan Stern’s journey, he rather asked us to do more work to stay with him than we could, we ought.