Upon visiting Melbourne’s Metanoia Theatre Space to experience Baker’s Dozen Theatre Company’s most recent production, Yellow Skies, I knew the show would be a success the moment I realised I forgot where I was. Though the stillness present in the room was enough to allude that everyone else was as spellbound to the production as I was, it was the director’s inclusion of so many additional sensory elements that allowed me to transcend into a world of post-apocalyptic war zone.
Written and produced as an original production (writing by Mitchel Edwards and direction by Robin Thomas), Yellow Skies examines the day-to-day existence of two young men struggling to survive in post-apocalyptic Australia. The bleak narratives shared by Noah (Aaron Trevaskis) and Glenn (Arli Faruk) highlight the best of mankind’s relentless belief in hope, while an unknown woman (Gabrielle Imrich) gives the audience a violent view of the darker sides of humanity.
The three part cast quickly drives the narrative through a series of lengthy and tongue-twisting monologues that not only highlight the playwright’s love of language but also illustrate each actor’s keen sense of vocal skills. Stories that could be lost on the viewer are navigated with simplicity and bring out each character’s frantic state of mind whilst they struggle to survive.
As a fellow performer, I believe that one of the most important elements that live theatre should be exploit is the ability to transport audience’s to another time and place; to allow the suspension of disbelief for a short while. Yellow Skies, by this definition, is therefore a very successful piece of theatre.
By inviting their audience into a post-apocalyptic terrain upon immediately entering the space, Yellow Skies quickly invites viewers to experience the reality of the Australian bush firsthand. Natural landscape, earth and vines cover the floor with trees snaking around the room to give off a distinct woodscape and scent that lingers in the air. A gentle soundscape lulls with whispering trees and bodies crawling through the terrain, cracking across the floor ad eerily quieting the traffic of the city street nearby.
Mitchel’s script strings the narrative along in a way that further draws his audience in from the developed sensory experience and builds, continuously, while remaining accessible to all.
Each actor’s ability to maneuver their way through the text-heavy script highlights Robin’s determination to make the performance available to every theatre goer. By keeping the story engaging and alive, at no point does the play fall flat, slow down, or lose you. Each sensory, textual, and physical element created by the production team leads audiences on a journey from beginning to the climatic, seat-gripping end.
Further credit to the actors for dealing with the wordy text. You managed to bring out the playwright’s textual ability, as well as being able to keep us viewers engaged. Yellow Skies never edges into ‘theatre’ territory — the play remains open, and ready for the taking, without dragging it’s audience into the masses of abstract and jargon.
Review by Brianna MacDonald
Editor’s Note: Yellow Skies is playing at the Metanoia Theatre Space in Brunswick until May 29. Tickets can be purchased here.