Presented by State Theatre Company of South Australia
Reviewed 28 August 2018
Wonder and the search for meaning—two things that make life beautiful, and maddening. Tim Winton’s That Eye, The Sky encapsulates this beautifully, and grounds it with small family tragedies in a wholly Australian setting. After father Sam is left incapacitated from a car crash, it is up to his family—Alice, Tegwyn, and the youngest Ort—to care for him and keep their unit together while battling their own hidden traumas. The 1994 play is approached with a light and understated hand by director Kate Champion, who juggles the many production elements to create a magical, though at times incohesive, piece of theatre.
Justin Monjo and Richard Roxburgh’s adaptation of That Eye, The Sky is a separate beast to Winton’s original book. We are given closer access to each family member, and in a lot of ways this makes for a highly charged evening as the audience puzzle together the family’s separate narratives and mindset. The humour, hardship and heart of story are all big emotions to handle, and occasionally end up butting incongruously against one another. Kate Champion’s direction fights to smooth this, giving each character time and space to breath.
The performances are uniformly good. Tim Overton as Ort nicely spans the line between boy and adult. Elena Carapetis again proves her immaculate ability to twist and turn an audience’s emotions with so much as a raised eyebrow, while Chris Pitman as Henry delivers an unsettling and strangely magnetic performance. The highlight of the production is Kate Cheel as Tegwyn, who offsets her family’s willingness to believe with a healthy dose of scepticism.
The Flack’s home, presented as a blasted hill, is vigorously designed by Geoff Cobham. Coupled with a shallow water pool (beware those in the front row—you will get wet), unobtrusive lighting and a stunning opening scene in which a transparent curtain gathers and forms into a cloud, it makes for a visually moving display.
That Eye, The Sky is about a search for faith and meaning, hidden in the face of immediate distress. And in the end, this connects us all.
Reviewed by CJ McLean
Venue: Dunstan Playhouse
Season: Now until 16th September 2018
Duration: 1hr 40mins
Tickets: Adult $84, Concession $74, Under 30s $38, Primary/Secondary Student $30