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Grave | Hope Theatre

Grave, which is written and directed by Will Osbon, and performed by Sylvie Agnello and Billy Truscott, is a bizarrely hypnotising show that explores just how quickly one can descend into madness when confronted with harsh truths and their own morality. When two unnamed characters meet, a grave digger and a lawyer, in a graveyard, their world views are challenged and changed by one another. Grave is a thought provoking and interesting piece, that through the use of quotes, conversations and metaphors, raises a sense of self-awareness and existentialism in the audience.

The two performers deliver excellent performances, and have bright futures in the industry. Agnello appears as five different characters (an older beekeeper, a lawyer, a drunk party girl, a mourning mother and a grave digger), and flawlessly brings a distinctive and defined approach to each character. With quick costume and hair changes, she transforms into these very different characters, and it's almost unbelievable that they're all played by the same person. Truscott, on the other hand, remains as one character throughout the play, but pushes him beyond the breaking point, leading to a haunting scene where his feral side comes out. The wild freedom, and unrestrained beast within makes more a morbid but moving journey within Truscott's character. With a natural talent for physicality, Truscott's snap changes are terrifyingly brilliant and his performance leaves the audience quite shaken.

The play unfortunately suffers from a lack of a clear narrative. Osbon is a talented writer, but dialogues and individual quotes seem to be more his strength than narratives and plots. He presents the story as a series of interactions between a number of characters and Truscott's character, and how they impact him psychologically. His slow unravelling and changing into a whole new persona is paced well, slowly slipping away with each scene, yet the chronology of the play feels flawed at times. The many characters disappear with the arrival of a new character, with no mention as to what's happened to them, and the events of the play feel unnatural for the time frame. The events feel forced, and there comes a point when the audience can no longer follow the story and merely just enjoys the performances. This isn't to say that the show isn't weirdly engaging and entertaining, but it doesn't quite reach the emotional depth that it aims to. 

The set design (Matilda Osbon) really sets the tone of the show, with a grave centre stage that has piles of ripped newspapers and tangled linen strewn about the grave and stage. These linen strands resemble that of an Egyptian mummy, and adds to the unsettling feeling that the set provides. Thomas Mccarthy's lighting work creates a stimulating space with his use of red shades, spotlight moments and shaky flashes of light - a particularly impressive moment was using a quick flash to denote a gun shot. Elizabeth Winstanley's sound design brings an ironically uplifting soundtrack to introduce the show, but eventually settles into a minimal use. Dance and fight choreography (Ellie Carrier and Yogi Sylvan) are synchronised and done well, but particularly stand out due to their unexpected scenes in the show. 

Grave has the potential to be a brilliant plot, still searching for a complete story, but has two incredibly talented young performers leading the play.


Gifted tickets in return for an honest review


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