Erotic, evocative and engrossing
By Amy Planner
Foreign Bodies is the newest production from Sly Rat Theatre Company, director Chris Baldock, and playwright Andy Harmsen. This seductive yet confronting look into the lives of two mismatched people tells tales of allure, disdain, political turmoil and self-discovery.
The mood is set as you snuggle into your Indian cushion on the floor around the small intimate stage. Dim lighting, Hindi imagery and exotically draped fabric surround you and the stage. There is nowhere to hide in this theatre: the actors are within touching distance and the room is intensified.
Andy Harmsen’s script is concise, intriguing and psychologically charged, dealing with severe issues with a graceful intelligence and authentic fearlessness. There are a few elements of the story that seem to only be present to validate other unnecessary components, which detracted only slightly as the candid snapshot into the hidden truth of the sex trade overshadows any minor faults. The political circumstance was a little unclear, but under the direction of Chris Baldock, the force with which the play builds to its climax is so incredibly powerful and almost unnervingly real.
Hamsen also deserves props for sound design, which creates a true atmospheric representation of Mumbai and the hustle-bustle of the culture, which translates powerfully into the intensity of the story as realised on stage.
Sly Rat co-artistic director Alan Chambers features as the bumbling journalist, alongside the sultry stylings of Marika Marosszeky. In the unforgiving and exposing space, the performers make no excuses as their emotional journey radiates through the audience. The pair are to be commended for their willingness to be so vulnerable on the stage.
Marosszeky bares her all, both emotionally and physically, giving everyone a intensely honest look into a totally dishonest world. Chambers felt a little unsteady in the beginning, but really held no punches when he settled in to the role. The duo prove themselves to be refreshingly genuine and superbly gifted.
Victoria Haslam and the cast use costume and makeup techniques that bring real depth to the characters and the setting. The sheer sweatiness of Chambers’ character in the opening was unbelievably convincing.
Foreign Bodies is funny, confronting and altogether engrossing for the audience. This production promises to challenge your boundaries and bounce off your curiosity – it truly does.
Venue: The Owl and Cat Theatre, 34 Swan Street, Richmond
Season: 23 October – 31 October