Theatre Review: Amphibian

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Presented by Windmill Theatre Company
Reviewed 7 September 2018

Students Hassan and Chloe are put on detention—one has been suspected of stealing their teacher’s money, and it’s up to them to decide what the truth is. It’s a simple concept that speaks volumes, and opens up a world of potential in this new production from Windmill Theatre Company. Moving away from the pure fantasy of some of their previous fare, Amphibian is an inventive production that motors along on the energy and vitality of its cast.

Duncan Graham’s script, while commendable for giving such important subject matter to a young audience, has some cliché shorthands in the presentation of such an alien world (to Westerners, at least). Graham makes full use of his central characters however, and skews into some dark and delightful places that will not fail to entertain. Director Sasha Zahra makes full use of this material, ensuring the play zips along at a nice pace while giving time and thought to some of the bleaker moments. The use of Farsi, in low-quality dubbed recordings, also adds a further texture to the play, courtesy of sound designer Ian Moorhead. Meg Wilson’s set design is simple yet effective (and exceptionally pleasing to any fan of pastels and symmetry), and matched well by Mark Pennington’s attentive lighting.

As Hassan and Chloe respectively, Antony Makhlouf and Maiah Stewardson make a superb double act. They bounce off of one another splendidly, with real chemistry buoying their act. The ease with which they flip into other characters should also be commended. While Makhlouf’s performance suffers slightly by not leaning further into the character, he also impresses with an impressive range of emotions on show. Both actors deliver very fine performances.

Amphibian is, as the name calls to mind, a slippery thing. There is boldness in presenting such mature content for a young audience; what comes with that, then, is the fear that it will be too confronting. There is no cause for concern; Amphibian succeeds in giving its audience a wholeheartedly entertaining and humanising experience. This is a compassionate piece of theatre told with a punch.

Reviewed by CJ McLean
Twitter: @cjmclean_

Venue:  Space Theatre
Season:  5-15 September
Duration:  50 mins
Tickets:  All ages $25.00, Groups* 6+ $20.00, Family $80.00
Bookings:  https://windmill.org.au/show/amphibian/

 

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