REVIEW: Neil LaBute’s In A Forest Dark And Deep

The breadcrumbs stop here…

By Myron My

Winterfall Theatre’s production of Neil LaBute’s In A Forest, Dark and Deep is an analysis of human behavior and the ugly side of the human psyche, and an exploration of why we might do the things we do…

In a Forest Dark and Deep

Here, a brother innocently goes to help his sister pack up her cabin in the woods that she has been renting out to a student. The evening results in a night of lies, deceit and revelations for both of them.

I’ve now seen two of LaBute’s play this year (Fat Pig at Chapel off Chapel) and I have to admit, I am not a fan. It’s as if he is trying too hard to make his point whereupon he sacrifices authentic character development and creates moments where the story just seems to go in every direction and then can’t get back on track.  The prime example is the insinuation that Betty and Bobby’s relationship is not exactly “healthy” and as quickly as this is exposed, it is dropped and forgotten about.

I was especially disappointed with the final few moments of In A Forest, Dark and Deep. It’s a basic rule of modern story-telling: the audience is always going to be two steps ahead of the plot so you need to reveal it as fast as possible or turn the tables. When we have already realised what’s happened, having to then watch a scene play out where we are spoon-fed the truth is frustrating.

Michele Williams and Christopher Connelly are competent and accomplished actors but can’t seem to find the right balance to make these people believable. William’s Betty lacks the sexual confidence needed to be able to do the things she has apparently done and the final reveal just doesn’t seem plausible. She is portrayed as weak and vulnerable throughout when really she must be manipulative and narcissistic.  In contrast, Connelly as the misogynistic and straight-as-a-door-nail Bobby is too obvious in all his emotions and ends up being one-dimensional.

This production of In A Forest, Dark and Deep does have its moments but the things that are wrong with the performance and the script outweigh these. It’s not the worst way to spend an evening, but it definitely is not the best.

Venue: The Theatre Husk, 161A Heidelberg Road, Northcote

Season: Until 23 November | Wed – Sat 8:0pm, Sat 4:00pm

Tickets: $30 Full | $26 Conc