"Don't Get Involved."
It's less than five years since the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama commissioned Alistair McDowall to write this play, and the first time we've seen it performed in Sydney.
The alternative reality of Pomona opened the 2020 season in the black box of the Kings Cross Theatre. Can we uncover parallels for Sydney to the futuristic Manchester where Pomona is set?
As the city falls from Grace, the audience is entrailed in questions of philosophy, ethics, even misogyny, with a construction that is all the more surreal through the inclusion of role playing games. Yet the audience is bound to step beyond the drama through devices in the narrative. As Secret House director, Anthony Skuse explains twice the characters "will implicate the audience in the action, as if they are protagonists in a nightmare over which they have no control."
No doubt this contemporary work is framed by a script of excellence. Yet within this, what the cast and crew of Secret House carry to the bAKEHOUSE stage is a truly outstanding moment in theatre. Casting is exceptional and in fits like fingers on a glove; all the Pomona actors consistently portray their characters perfectly. Somehow the men seem the foils as the stoic icy Jane Angharad pierces our hearts, Amanda McGregor (Ollie and twin) captures them and Lauren Richardson (Fay) melts them. From these bones, director Anthony Skuse weaves Pomona into dark disruptive pathos.
The only question to still be answered is if we don't get involved, is this where we are heading?
Pomona plays upstairs at Kings Cross Hotel until Saturday 8 February. Up next for the KXT is Australian Open from Friday 14 February. And up next for Secret House and Seymour Centre presents Hedda Gabler 7 - 23 May 2020.
Photo by Clare Hawley