Directed by Humphrey Bower
Starring Humphrey Bower, Danielle Micich
As a child born and raised by deaf parents, JJ (Humphrey Bower) learnt to speak with his hands long before he did with his voice. Now as a teacher of sign language, he is approached by two promising students, to teach their charge Eliza (Danielle Micich) how to converse in sign . However all is not as straightforward as it seems.
To say much more about the plot would be to reveal some genuine surprises that arise during the unfolding of Wish. Fans of the Peter Goldsworthy novel will revel in seeing this adaptation brought to life. For the rest it is a journey of discovery, exploring the rich issues of identity, relationships and the power of communication.
Set on a minimal stage, the only piece of dressing being a tire swing hiding in the shadows, Wish is purely dependent on the power of the actors to capture its audience. Writer/director Bower acts almost as a story teller from an oral tradition, bringing the narrative to life, capturing the nuances of various characters as he transforms himself into them. As JJ his hands are never silent, weaving Auslan sign into and through the narrative. Yet where Wish really comes alive is with the appearance of Eliza. Micich’s performance is arresting. Her limbs contorted, her back muscles bunched, her face obscured by a mop of hair, as the choreographer/performer gracefully portrays Eliza punctuated by sudden burst of speed and strength. The interaction between these two performers is the centrepiece of this play, and it is riveting to watch.
Ultimately the issue for Wish lies in the tale it is telling. During the third act there is an action so shocking that it may derail the audience’s interest in this play. In short, it crosses an ancient taboo that make it difficult to re-engage with the rest of the show, obscuring the tragedy to follow and even the themes previously explored. Wish is bold in crossing that line, but at what cost?
A confrontational piece, told with power and flair, Wish is a play that will not sit comfortably with all audiences.
Wish is on at the State Theatre Centre’s Studio Underground until May 24. For tickets and session times, go here.