REVIEW: VCA Presents A BRIGHT ROOM CALLED DAY

Impressive handling of a difficult play

By Myron My

A Bright Room Called Day by Tony Kushner, directed by Tom Healey, begins in 1932 with a group of friends celebrating New Years’ Eve. Over the course of the next few years, we see how their lives and relationships with each other are affected with the slow rise of the Nazi party in Germany.

The first half of the performance was quite long and I felt like I was waiting a long time for something definitive to happen. It wasn’t until the second act where things really start moving; the relationships between the characters were explored on a deeper level and you saw the complexities of the choices these people were making and the effects they had on everyone else.

I was however puzzled by the plot’s inclusion of the scenes about a 1990s New Yorker living in Berlin. I felt this sideways storyline detracted from the strength of the 1930s and whilst I appreciated the tie-in towards the end, I did feel like it might have allowed for a tighter story with its exclusion.

The play had a strong cast including Aaron Walton and Edwina Samuels as the one-eyed Hungarian film electrician Husz and glamorous movie star Paulinka respectively. They played their scenes with strong conviction and authenticity and special mention would have to go to Walton for his Hungarian accent.

Another notable performance was Jean Goodwin as “Die Alte” (the Old Woman); the ghost who resides in the apartment. Her dynamic scenes amplified the fear and uncertainty that was rising in Berlin and allowed for a different form of energy to be created which, given the heavy nature of the subject being explored, was a welcomed change.

Set designer Jacob Battista has used the space incredibly well and created a single set– where the whole play takes place – as if it were a real apartment where real people lived, thus magnifying the effect of the supernatural elements. The scene with the devil’s arrival is the first time in a while that any set design has made me go ‘wow’. Similarly, the costumes used were indicative of the effort that costume designer Nicholas MacKinnon has gone to in creating a strong sense of individuality between the characters but to also represent the ideology of the time back then.

A Bright Room Called Day has given these graduating students from The Victorian College of the Arts an opportunity to delve into the psyche of some wonderful characters so it is a shame the play’s plot could not have been as strong as the performances.

Venue: Studio 45, with Box Office at 28 Dodds Street, Southbank.

Season: Until 2 November | 7:00pm, Sat 2:00pm Tickets: $22 Full | $16 Concession

Bookings: http://www.vca.unimelb.edu.au/events?id=448

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