A bare stage with a covered table and a chair, sheets of paper scrunched up in angry origami littering the floor. It’s a simple image that softly, surely becomes part of the narrative in Subtlenuance’s production of Softly, Surely.
Written by Daniela Giorgi and Paul Gilchrist and directed by Paul Gilchrist, Softly, Surely is an assured sixty minutes of integrated vignettes, of song and soliloquy performed by a strong ensemble.
The play opens with a monologue by Carla, presented while having a pap smear. Positioned awkwardly, she speaks eloquently of her childhood, being raised by Italian parents, of feeling ashamed of the veggie patch as she tried to assimilate into Australian mainstream, and with adulthood, evolving into pride in her parents culture and legacy, part of which is her mother’s recipe for biscotti.
The darker side of her mother’s legacy, cervical cancer is the reason she is undergoing the procedure and her monologue is a mixture of humour and horror, of nostalgia and apprehension. It is beautifully written and superbly played by Claudia Shnier.
With clean stagecraft and covering folk song, we are transported to Carla’s gynaecologist's home. Mike appears preoccupied with his mobile phone and building his property portfolio to engage properly with his wife, Melissa. It’s a terrific encapsulation of the emotional ebb of a marriage, with well crafted characterisations from Yannick Lawry and Zoë Crawford.
Mike’s mum, Alice, has had a stroke, euphemistically called a “surprise”. Speech impaired and dexterity disabled, her social conscience is undiminished. It is her litter of letters to legislators that adorn the stage.
Abi Rayment’s performance is tenderly rendered, morphing from the dulled tongue of her affliction to the articulate and impassioned spirit of her being.
Rosie Meader is Maddy, Alice’s part time carer and aspiring actress, self obsessed but clearly intuitive. She balances the shallow aspects of ambition with a shrewdness of the show business world, via instruction from Ibsen. Very funny and quite telling.
With its infusion of acappella folk song, Softly, Surely lives up to its name as an affecting theatrical experience, infectiously and rivetingly alive.
by Daniela Giorgi & Paul Gilchrist
Director Paul Gilchrist
Venue: Flight Path Theatre | 142 Addison Road. Marrickville NSW
Dates: 6 – 10 September 2022
Tickets: $21 – $25