Fearsome fables of the night
By Myron My
We’re all afraid of something: no use in denying that. Sometimes it can be irrational and other times it can be rational and justified. In Do You Fear The Dark? we are presented with two short stories by theatre company Dramatic Pause that looks at both of these kinds of fears. Written by Hayley Lawson-Smith, the stories both focus on a mother’s relationship with her children, but in two very different ways.
In the first and stronger story of the pair, “Perhaps”, a mother (Victoria Haslam) worries about what’s become of her two runaway daughters. Her minds races through various scenarios, some of which are humorous, like joining the circus, while others are more dire, like being taken by a man under the ruse that he had lost his dog. Her dark thoughts are acted out on stage by Ariel Simone and Shae O’Reilly as her daughters and Zak Zavod as quite literally everyone else.
With the darkness surrounding it, the second story, “Tom Tat”, has more of a fairytale feel akin to what the Grimm brothers might have created. Here, Tom Tat (Zavod) comes to collect a debt from Pandora (Haslam). While she fights him, he is adamant he will have what he is owed: her daughter’s soul. It’s a fierce power struggle between the two as to who will be victorious, however, there were times when the dialogue became repetitious and lessened the intensity of the overall story. This was originally a 20-minute play, but having seen it in this longer form, I feel the story would probably benefit more as the shorter and tauter piece.
The cast of four is great and the individual performances are impressive, however it is Zavod that demands all of our attention. His multiple-character work in “Perhaps” is just brilliant and his ability to switch from one end of the spectrum to the other in seconds showcases the talent he possesses. He elicits an equal feeling of fun and dread from the audience in his roles and his scenes with Haslam in “Tom Tat” remained a joy to watch.
Accompanying the actors on stage is musician Natasha Broadstock playing the bassoon and various percussion instruments, which effectively builds on the suspense. Furthermore, the ethereal choreography throughout the pieces is used purposefully, and nicely enhances the fear and trepidation that the various characters feel.
Despite my issue with some of the dialogue in Tom Tat, Do You Fear The Dark? does a fine job in creating a macabre environment for its audience. While one story is an exploration of the human psyche and how our thoughts can overpower us and the second ponders the extent a mother will go to to protect her child, both stories will gradually draw you in to their darkness.
Do You Fear The Dark? was performed at The Butterfly Club between 2 – 6 September 2015.