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In Real Life


Darlinghurst Theatre Company, supported by Screenwise and Dominic Tayco and Darren Conlon, present, IN REAL LIFE, by Julian Larnach at the Eternity Playhouse, Burton St, Darlinghurst. 15 September – 15 October.

IN REAL LIFE, is a new Australian play, by Julian Larnach.

Luke Rogers, the Director of this play, began a collaboration with the writer, Julian Larnach, almost three years ago. In the program notes, Mr Rogers uses a quote from Sherry Turkle, a Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology: ‘Technology doesn’t just do things for us. It does things to us, changing not just what we do but who we are’. 

Says Mr Rogers:

This play is about much more than technology […] Through the relationship between a mother and her daughter, this work examines our need for human connection, the dilemmas that arise when our technology develops beyond our existing templates for the world, and the lengths we are prepared to go to hold on to those we have lost.

Set some time in the near future we meet a mother, Theresa (Anni Finsterer) who has created a high tech ‘gadget’ called The Drum which is revolutionary in its applications for connection to all things in the world. Her estranged daughter, Eva (Elizabeth Nabben) arrives at her mother’s fabulous country get-away. Theresa finds that she knows less about her daughter than her other technical creation and when Eva disappears – deliberately disconnecting herself from The Drum, maybe – Theresa finds herself desperate to re-establish connection, to find her daughter. The lengths to which she goes are extensive and, ultimately, delusional and despairingly obsessive.

The play travels into areas of intriguing desperation and the trick of the writer to have one actor play multiple roles (Elizabeth Nabben) is absorbing and sustains our curiosity. The play in this production is better than the performance. Ms Finsterer and Nabben both deliver, in this very widely designed modernist minimalist (empty) architectural ‘house’ (Production Designer, Georgia Hopkins), performances that are vocally underwhelming (projection) and so not at all commanding of our attention. Once again, James Brown, has composed and created a Sound Design that propels the intrigue of the play forward – THE NETHER, another alarming futuristic gaze, also benefits from Mr Brown’s input.

IN REAL LIFE, then, is an interesting piece of new Australian writing, hampered by performances that do not communicate to all of the audience (I sat in Row D in Seat 19 and found the play text often inaudible/ at best muffled – it was almost as if the actors were playing to/for themselves!)