‘Incognito’ is a 2014 ‘solve the human maze’ story by an intelligent young contemporary, award-winning English playwright and screenwriter, Nick Payne – who looks genuinely like this production’s director. Nick is famous for writing emotional situations and often rewriting the rules of creative writing.
Melville Theatre Players present this impressive, two-hour (NO INTERVAL), breath-taking performance at the Melville Theatre on the corner of Stock Road and Canning Highway in Melville. The season is every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening at 8.00 pm until the 22nd May. There is a 2.00 pm matinée on Sunday 16th May.
Please ensure that you visit the toilet before the show, do NOT be ‘that person’ who ruins the magic achieved by three months of intense rehearsals.
This authentic brainteaser demands that you put on a thinking cap as the four exceptionally talented actors play twenty-one characters, in thirty scenes all from a trio of interwoven tales as observed over five decades.
Despite most scenes being only about three minutes, after the initial few minutes your brain quickly comes to terms with the tantalising, multi-layered concept. This is a lively play that thanks to the affable personalities, flows beautifully. The storyline may sound like a university lecture, but it is certainly not ‘arduous work’, however, it does take fairly constant concentration as you are fed thought-provoking snippets of the story. It does come together with a most satisfying, clever and poignant ending.
The Scene: Red – London. 4 weeks in 2017. Green – 1955 to 97 in Kansas. Yellow – 1952 to 2017 in Bath UK.
The Set: Designed by Sarah Christiner, the set has created three defined areas of the stage, signifying time or location. The enclosing black flats, the three twenty-centimetre black rostra and the black floor have a clever pattern of nerve fibre complexes painted in red, yellow and green.
The set: Was constructed by Sarah Christiner, Jacob, Lars and Vanessa Jensen, Valerie Henry, Susan Lynch, Peter Bloor and Ross Bertinshaw. The set’s bare bones décor and neural painting required the added help of Clare Talbot, Darcy Jensen, Barbara Lovell and Chris Rowe.
The red area had a small wooden table and a 1960s red three-seater, cloth buttoned, Chesterfield settee. The yellow area had a six octave, small upright piano and a double piano stool. Two hospital visitors’ chairs were next to the piano. The green area had a kitchen bench and a seat. The front of the stage was the busy restaurant area.
The lighting design: The three chandeliers had vintage filament, LED retro lamps – perfect choice for the atmosphere. Lighting designers, Jacob Jensen and Lars Jensen have drilled a series of 3 cms holes around the sides of each dais, allowing the variable-coloured lighting inside to shine through. Jacob Jensen smoothly operated the many lighting changes.
The sound design: Was by Ventilation Productions. Daniel Toomath and Clare Talbot operated the specially created backing.
Stage management: Claire Talbot and her assistant Miriam Talbot had no mid-play scene changes, however, a number of props had to be positioned in advance.
Programme: Clear to read and nicely laid out. Vanessa Jensen.
The play opens in a hospital (yellow area). In his early twenties and about to set off on his honeymoon, Henry Maison (William Everett-Knight) has found himself in a mental hospital. The trauma means that he now relives the same final few hours before his ordeal – daily. His broken-hearted new bride, Margaret (Ruhama Rowe), visits him every day, always hoping for even a tiny improvement. The play hints that we should consider how we would cope with these vagaries of memory?
On the other side of the world (the green area) an eminent young Princeton pathologist, Thomas Harvey (Grant Malcolm) has just finished an autopsy on Albert Einstein. However, after completing the legally required pathological tests, he decides that this is his big chance to find how a truly brilliant brain works, so illegally removes Einstein’s brain for intense microscopic examination. Harvey gave Einstein’s family the remains, forgetting to mention that pieces of brain matter are now stored in his home basement. Obsessed with this new cerebral challenge, his wife Elouise (Suzannah Churchman) becomes ignored and neglected.
Today in London (the red area of the stage) two lonely women meet in a crowded pub and strike up a friendship.
Still in London, we watch as a psychologist checks her patient with suspected Temporal Amnesia.
This story is crammed with a myriad of emotions, heartbreak, anger, confusion, misinterpretation and passion to name a few. With so many quick scene changes, the cast wears simply white ‘cricket’ outfits throughout the two hours. Their only accessories being a red scarf and an emerald green bowtie.
The script demonstrates how various interpretations of a situation can lead to several different understandings by the audience.
The simplicity of the sets allows the audience to fill in the details of their interpretation of the various venues. Intricate props or décor would just distract or confuse. Normally characters are defined by their costumes / makeup, their accent, their age, body stance and carriage, attitude and general personality. Usually, any one of these qualities is sufficient to indicate the personality, however, even one characteristic like an accent can take an actor weeks to conquer. Here, each actor had four or five vastly different roles to play, all having several different accents, demeanours, age and characteristics to learn. These extraordinarily talented actors each had to deliver an American drawl, then some had a posh British accent and William mastered an immaculate Dorset twang.
The lights would dim and within seconds come back up to reveal a new location with the same actors as a different couple; yet the whole demeanour of each actor will have changed instantly, in several of the aforementioned personality defining groups – truly amazing acting. The actors switched dexterously from heartbreak to light-hearted banter.
Even with the incredibly fast pace of the performance, the four cast members never faltered.
This production is unlike anything you will have seen before, director Brendan Ellis and his assistant director Caroline McDonnell – both award winners – have given us true quality. It might not be everyone’s taste, but the direction, acting and thought behind this production is without doubt first class. A rare theatrical treasure.