BWW Reviews: ADELAIDE FRINGE 2015: CUT Explores The Mind Of A Frightened Woman
Reviewed by Ray Smith, Thursday 20th February 2015
Cut is powerful and engaging theatre on every level, and is the product of an extraordinary team of consummate professionals. Elizabeth Gadsby's design is sparse, functional and graceful, Russell Goldsmith's sound scape is subtle yet insistent, and Sam Hopkin's lighting is as precise as a needle. Duncan Graham's writing and direction is flawless, and performer, Hannah Norris is utterly terrifying.
There is no proscenium, there is no stage, and there is no separation of actor and audience at all. Norris, in fact, greets each member of the audience individually as they enter and directs them to the two rows of nine seats that face each other on either side of her working space, the Manse at Holden Street Theatres. The smiling face of the airline stewardess has already been painted on.
"Do you see the door at the end of the room?" she asks. "That is not an exit".
She explained that the procedure, should any member of the audience feel so afraid or uncomfortable that they needed to leave, was to raise your arm and speak the safe word "Cut". Her beatific smile was answered by indulgent grins from the audience and the lights went out. All the lights went out. We were plunged into a darkness that was complete. There was nothing and there continued to be nothing. I could 'feel' the grins slip from the faces so close around me.
Slowly, slowly an area began to lighten slightly and our stewardess began to prepare herself for work by applying the mask that had greeted us on this flight into nightmare. There were no scene changes per se but there were many state of mind changes each heralded and aborted by light.
We begged for it.
Norris would appear, suddenly, in a different part of the space having moved silently in the enveloping blackness. The elegance of Gadsby's design became more and more apparent.
The sub story began to emerge and with it the characters pulled from; where; her memory, her dreams, her fantasy, her reality?
Who are these people that she encoujnters? Dangerous, but easily led, Donald and his screwdriver. The tiny old, young, old woman, with no mouth, but very sharp scissors. The woman with bleeding hands being tripped in the park. The boy, watching the Golden Orb spider. The stalker in his suit, pressed shirt (no tie) three-quarter length coat, hair parted to the right, and eyes like ash. The iron pot.
We entered the mind of the character, though not willingly, our seat belts firmly fastened and the overhead lights out of our control.
"A cargo of dreams" she murmured surveying her sleeping passengers lovingly. We were not comforted.
Hannah Norris was astonishing. Very few actors could have pulled off such an extraordinary performance. A fabulous script, a perfect set, a soundscape so well written that it was almost invisible and the lighting, the incredible lighting, but the actor sold it to me. She flipped from one state of mind to the next as if she had a switch.
This is truly wonderful theatre and should be toured worldwide, where it would gain great acclaim. If this is experimental theatre then the experiment was very successful. I shall be haunted by this work for the rest of my life.
"My heart is pounding like a rabbit."