Neighbourhood watching

By Myron My

We all have them: the nosy neighbours who watch your every move from their living room window. They notice when you come home late one night or spot you putting your rubbish in someone else’s bin. They see who comes and who goes. Ann is that person. In Dangerous Lenses she spies a new tenant moving into her building with a young girl who he later denies was there. This leads Ann to believe the girl is suffering from neglect and abuse by her father, and she sets out to rescue her.

Written by Brooke Robinson, the script has strong elements of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window yet still retains its own sense of originality and a good dose of intrigue. The language used is very descriptive and elicits many visual imaginings from the audience.

Dangerous Lenses

The gradual descent of Ann is paced well and we are given the right amount of information as we need it, both to progress the story and also to start making our own decisions about what is happening or what may happen.

Adding to the tight script was Ekrem Mulayim’s impressive sound design and composition. Many times, it blended in and flowed with the dialogue and action so seamlessly that I didn’t even notice it had started or finished. It amplified the tension on stage wonderfully and helped add that extra layer of sophistication into the production.

Being a one-person play, there is always significant pressure on the actor to ensure you are able to carry the play and meet the demands of the character and Meredith Penman is more than able to do this. She disappears into Ann and her transformation from seemingly nice but prying neighbour to someone whose mental state slowly begins to unravel is subtle and gradual yet takes sudden and unexpected directions. She plays the character’s neuroses well and imbues Ann with the right amount of pathos right up until the climactic end.

Dangerous Lenses is an elegant and gripping piece of theatre and it’s a real shame that its season has ended because it really is one of my top choices for this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival.