The cavenous black space of the Carriageworks is illuminated with shards of light that slice through the space illuminating scattered places- a ramp, a patch of grass, a staircase, a kitchen, a bar. Music plays, a whimsical riff leaning towards jazz – melodic and gentle.

The premise is very simple – Four women wander through Katoomba in search of love, or in need of reconciling with their loss – and discover that all is of their making – the real and the imagined.

I don’t know the work of Michelle St Anne, at all. She has been making work since 2000 which according to her bio is a process-focused ensemble works. I’m not familiar with her mentor Tanya Gerstle (or her work), nor am I familiar with the work of Janet Cardiff. These are two of Michelle St Anne’s influences. It is also a work which is dedicated to the “Memory of Jill Turner” and “For my Petey.” I have no reference who these people are either – and what bearing this has on the work. I am scouring the program for more clues… Interestingly, Jason Blake has found out that this piece was originally a radio play – and his review can be found here. For me, it doesn’t matter if the starting point of this work was focused on it as a radio play- what I saw was a piece of live performance and that is what I am responding to as i write this. For me it is nearly irrelevant what it was, I am only interested in engaging with what it is.

It is a very rare occasion I read a program (or media releases) before going to see a show. I see lots of shows, and I have little to no interest in reading the PR spin or the marketing blurb until after the performance. I want to read the work first, then read about the work second. It’s just how I do things. So usually when I go to the theatre and I ask someone along, and they ask me what it’s about, more often than not, I reply “I don’t know, but we’ll watch it and then talk about it and drink tea.” Luckily I have very obliging theatre companions, who must really love tea… because I rarely get knocked back…(perhaps its because they research the show before saying yes? Who knows.)

I’m not really interested in process focused works. I think if an audience is seeing it – it’s a product. Process is for the artist to figure out. Product is for the audience to figure out. I don’t need to know anything about the process for me to understand a theatrical experience – sounds harsh – but really I’m just reporting how I approach understanding work.

Additionally, as a dramaturg obsessed with new writing, I can not escape watching a piece of theatre and looking at the dramaturgy. On this occasion, I was very uninspired by the writing. I’m not sure if Aarne Neeme’s dramaturgical notes were at all acted upon – as this seems a very internal and ponderous piece of writing. A piece of writing which in it’s title seems to feel related to a sonnet – but in actuality is more like a journal entry. There seems to be no rhythm nor use of iambic pentameter, nor is there a rhyming scheme… so I was a little confused by it being a sonnet of sorts… it’s nothing like a sonnet.

Additionally, the only “creative” whose work I am familiar with is that of Marissa Dale Johnson – who did some lovely design work last year – namely in The Schelling Point and The Sweetest Thing. This design, however, lost a lot in translation, in fact I think the design speaks of perhaps a collaborative effort in which Dale -Johnson relinquished some control during the process.

My major problem with this piece is that the writing is not strong. Not very strong at all. At times overly introspective. At times cliche and obvious. At other times baffling and incongruous. I am not sure what the story is. In the end, I was creating a story out of these fragments that surpassed the elements of what was actually being told. I also found the dreamy mental meanderings dull. Lacking in dramatic action and purpose. At times also all four women’s dialogue (monologues?) were fairly interchangeable – as the writing was written in the same pace and tone as each other. A conscious choice perhaps? No. I don’t think it was.

I can not express enough my admiration for any artist to be a maker. It’s tough. I know it is. I really know. But I also know that it is very difficult to act, direct, write, produce and collaborate all at once. I encourage Michelle St Anne – clearly she has a vision, clearly a huge passion and great commitment to art. But on this occasion, this piece did not trigger in me any response except admiration for her focus as a maker. The story needs more work and serious interrogation of the text, characters and the story is needed.