WHAT WE SAW IN THE SORGHUM FIELDS by THAT Production Company fell flat

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WHAT WE SAW IN THE SORGHUM FIELDS by THAT Production Company fell flatAs a review and fellow theatregoer, one of things I love to do is to see new works and, more specifically, new Australian works. There's always a risk with staging a new work; how to market it, whether or not people will come and what if people don't like it, to name a few. I've been very fortunate to have been able to see a plethora of new plays that have been exceptional but I've also seen a few that have fallen flat, under polished and undercooked and have left in me leaving the theatre questioning whether I should have come in the first place. Unfortunately, THAT Production Company's production of Tremayne Gordon's What We Saw in The Sorghum Fields has left me feeling this way.

If you asked me what the play was about then I couldn't tell you. Throughout the work, I had no idea plot-wise what was happening, which probably wasn't helped by the fact that I could hardly hear a word that Indigo Macrokanis (one of the three actors) was saying at all. The poor ladies who sat in front of me really struggled too as,after each of her lines, I could hear them audibly whispering to each other, asking what she'd said.

Although Chris Patrick Hansen's character was blind, he spent the first twenty minutes of the play staring into each characters eyes and turning his head where each sound was coming from. I really hope no patrons were visually impaired as I can't imagine how much offence they would have taken to it when I was clenching my fists in my lap.

However, whilst the lack of substance (or any substance really) is undeniably the primary reason for the productions downfall, the show lacked a creative focus. Directed by Timothy Wynn, the actors were constantly running laps across the stage and there was no isolated space. I've no doubt that'll Wynn had a reason for having three screens standing at the back which kept on revolving, but unfortunately that meaning didn't translate. It didn't even hide the actors as they were picking up their water bottles or trying their shoe laces backstage, which was very distracting but still more interesting then what was unfolding onstage.

It was quite obvious from the first minute in, that the reason the performance started half an hour late was because of technical issues, which still hadn't been fixed. The music didn't fade out and the lights were either cued wrong, or hadn't been rigged properly. Consequently, what was (I think) meant to be supernatural elements were very cringe worthy and I truly felt bad for the actors who were trying their best to make us believe that either something was possessing them, something was about to eat them and sometimes both.

Whilst the playwright and creative team probably had good intentions, this show missed the mark.

Rating: 1 Star

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