‘Halina’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

‘Halina’ devised piece for the FRINGE WORLD Festival 2016, by the ‘Open Lid Ensemble’; this is the performers’ own group, dedicated to the exploration of all things metaphysical. It is a unification of Curtin University Performance Studies students from several years ago.

The powerful, energy packed, 55-minute performances run each evening at 7.00 pm until Sunday, 31st January, in the elegant and palatial Laneway Lounge which reflects the atmosphere of New Orleans and Paris in the 30s. It is situated at 414A Murray Street in a laneway near Fast Eddys. It has a wonderful little 60-seat theatre.


As we wait for the show to begin, the live, melodious and haunting music from Michael Biagioni was remarkable. It was a complex blend of instruments and his soft vocals.

       On entering the theatre, there were bodies lying in the aisle, on the open floor space in front of the stage, on the stage and under a trolley. These people were dressed in white body stockings and white shifts.

      Dressed in her blue, hospital orderly uniform, Halina (Amanda Watson) enters the hospital laundry and starts her work. She loads (in mime) several machines, before suffering the worst traumatic, domestic experience that anyone can imagine. Some ex-patients come to her rescue, and after beginning with basic first aid, one lady (Ann-Marie Biagioni) decides to employ advanced methods of medicine that she has observed in the hospital. The treatment is supervised by another misfit (Hannah Evelyn).

       A couple of patients (Sinead O’Hara, Courtney Turner) think it is a good idea to cheer up Halina with animal impersonations, but in doing so, they don’t notice that one of their own vivacious friends (Kat Shaw) is now suffering.


My first camera was a Halina – named after the Greek for ‘light’. Here, the main character is the guiding light and example.

In this play, some loveable misfits demonstrate how, as youngsters, we are resilient and can face any challenge. As we get older this self-assurance dissipates and we have more trouble coping with even simple changes in our routine.  We watched as the actors edgily explored the dark, numerous angles on their rollercoaster ride of emotions, security and suffering. Just as we think there is stability, the quick sand sucks us back in.

The amount of energy engaged in this play was jaw dropping. There was little dialogue, the whole story clearly demonstrated by the highly skilled cast, displaying moods, emotions, advance mime and symbolism. This is a thought provoking show that makes you consider even your own life.

A huge amount of talent in this very different show; it was completely fresh and exciting.