God’s Ear – A new American play by Jenny Schwarz, directed by Jonathan Wald was the final show of the inaugural Reginald Season for 2011 and it was in the last few days of it’s season that I found myself spontaneously in a seat at the Seymour.

Declarations up front – I am friends with Jonathan Wald and had considered being attached to this show as a casting advisor until my own projects whisked me up and away – so I knew about this long before I saw it. So this is not a review but a note reflecting some of my thoughts about the show.

It’s a difficult thing for me to imagine and it pushes me into a different realm of philosophical pondering to assume there is a God and this God possesses an ear. It’s nearly a quaint notion, isn’t it? The assumption that there is an all-powerful, all-seeing, all-hearing presence which overseas the mutterings, bumblings, stumblings and fumblings of humanity. In a world which is so geared to the individual’s individualistic pursuits of money, fame, success – where we cheat nature and time with science and technology – it seems like an ancient myth to me – like that of the Greeks or the Egyptians- the presence and influence of God. And there we are, an audience peering down onto the stage – watching and listening. We are that all-powerful observer – the audience.

The story is fairly domestic – a marriage falters as both try to come to terms with the death of their son, and the life of their daughter. Love is lost, forgotten, half-remembered and interactions between parents, lovers, strangers zig-zag and jar. The story simple and relationships familiar – but the language – the sound, the use – all new, all different. And it’s hard going. This is not the type of naturalism that could be found in film, TV or at bus stops. And even beyond the American sounds and locations and names and references the collide between the familiar and the unfamiliar is compelling.
And it felt like a window into a new world. Not because of it’s American-ness. but because of the rhythm of the interchanges.

I can’t tell you about the cast – except to say it was clear that they were all on the same page and in the same play. I can tell you that I loved the design (Jo Lewis) and the lighting design (Matt Cox) – and it seems that Jonathan and I have always shared a common aesthetic sensibility.

In other reviews it talks about the coldness or unemotional nature of the play –
Jason Blake: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/theatre/the-inexpressible-finds-voice-in-aphorism-cliche-and-puns-20111114-1nfe1.html
Kevin Jackson: http://kjtheatrereviews.blogspot.com/2011/11/marriage-plot.html

And I suppose, in my view – this was not so at least for the actors performing- perhaps by the time I saw the show the actors were more comfortable in the space, in the story and in the text. However, the audience experience is still somewhat removed: it is not easy to be swept away in an instinctual catharis in a play which is highly technical with it’s language just like it is difficult to be swept up in the magic of spectacle if you can see what’s in the lighting grid.

The show for me was largely centred around Helen O’Leary’s speech/rant/impersonations as the forever tragic Lenore- and it has been a while since I sat dumbstruck, embarrassed and in awe of such a performance. All things made sense to me at that moment.

And if the audience is God – we are an impotent one – not affecting, not shaping nor influencing – merely listening to the world as fragmented, muddled and struggling to make sense. And to me, that makes perfect, complete sense.