[Review] Drive & Smoke: Short theatre at Murdoch

By Zenna Sparkes-Santos

Last night, I had the joy of watching two short plays; Drive and Smoke, presented by Hand in Hand Theatre Company. Both pieces were written and directed by young Perth talents. Clare Talbot and Jordan Holloway present a pair of two-person plays about life, death and family.

Drive is a confronting piece about “the inner feelings one has when a tragic loss occurs and the coming to terms of those feelings”, says writer Clare Talbot. Even though it is short, Drive sure packs a punch. Actors Clare Mosel-Crossley and Xarna Rappold have wonderful timing and chemistry, coming through strongest as Rappold shows us the inner dialogue of someone experiencing an intensely traumatic event. While I felt the post-absurdist style in which it is written occasionally becomes a little stilted, both Rappold and Mosel-Crossley bring beautifully truthful performances.

Working in such close quarters, both actors felt it was a great, positive experience. “We had an immediate intimacy amongst the cast and crew”, shares Rappold. Mosel-Crossley agrees, saying that “I feel that as a cast member I get the opportunity to explore ideas and feel confident enough to explore those ideas with just one more cast member in the room”.

Smoke follows as soon as Drive ends, adding a little brevity to the mix. While two siblings argue about whether or not they’re going to their father’s funeral, we get a wonderful snapshot of familial love and tension. Writer Jordan Holloway tells me that “everyone has put a ton of effort to get these two show up off the ground” and it shows. Actors Stephanie Beckham and Jacob Wehr Murphy artfully capture the sibling dynamic and the conflict between someone struggling with mental illness and someone struggling to understand it. Beckham shares with me that she would “be hesitant to say it has a particular message – I think everyone can take their own meaning from it” and I would say I agree whole heartedly. The snappy dialogue holds a lot of truth about how we respond to the intense emotions surrounding death. Murphy skilfully sums it up for me, saying “I believe the message of Smoke is family is important and in hard times it’s always good to have a shoulder to lean on or someone to talk something through”.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my evening out. It was thought provoking and powerful, making me glad I had someone with me to talk things through with once we had left. It is well worth spending your hard earned $15 on a ticket for closing night tonight to support our student actors and local theatre company. 6/10

Metior Magazine