Above – Noel Hodda & Helen O'Connor. Cover – Helen O'Connor & Louisa Panucci. Photos – Danielle Lyonne.

I can’t come.

This is the arresting opening line of Stephen Sewell’s new play, The Lives of Eve.

Sylvia has booked herself into psychoanalyses with Eve, a Freudian and a Lacanian. Sylvia has been attracted by the idea of the talking cure. No wonder. She is very loquacious. Sylvia talks about boyfriends and school days, lesbian liaisons and naughty nuns. Eve mostly listens. Sometimes prodding, sometimes provoking.

Session over, Eve returns to her house and husband, Paul, full of bonhomie, genuinely interested in her day but chiding of her tendency to bring work home. Eve is receiving visitation from her deceased mother, Madeline, whose ashes contained in a decorative urn adorn the mantelpiece together with Eve and Paul’s wedding photo, an adjacency that does not sit well with the parent apparition.

Writing in an atmosphere thick with ideas about love, sexuality, art, poetry and time, Sewell swells the play with erudite verbosity, vernacular vetoed by academic parlance. Nonetheless, for the first Act at least, it is compelling. Some of the Shavian didactics could have been shaved, some of the implications may muddy the melodramatic waters, while the second Act hinges on a supreme improbability, conjectured as coincidence.

Helen O’Connor brings Eve to life in fiery, flinty conflict, flaming, flaring and sometimes frosty, a prisoner of her own interior. Louisa Panucci delivers a bravura performance as Sylvia, a realisation of the robust and the fragile.

Noel Hodda festers frustration as Eve’s flummoxed spouse, a designer of warehouses harbouring a sub conscious edifice complex. And Annie Byron conjures as Eve’s mother’s ghost, offering posthumous paternal advice and libations from the hereafter.

Set and Costume by Hannah Yardley presents an intriguing schemata, with a couch centre stage surrounded by Persian rugs on floor, wall and ceiling.

Event details

White Box in association with bAKEHOUSE Theatre presents
The Lives of Eve
by Stephen Sewell

Director Kim Hardwick

Venue: KXT on BROADWAY | 181 Broadway, Ultimo NSW
Dates: 27 October - 11 November 2023
Tickets: $35 – $45
Bookings: www.kingsxtheatre.com

 

Most read Sydney reviews

More from this author