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Oblique Space, muliple lives

Tony Reck

Fiona Macleod, Todd MacDonald, Construction of the Human Heart Fiona Macleod, Todd MacDonald, Construction of the Human Heart
Enter ‘Him’ and ‘Her.’ They sit in a nondescript, aqua green set, reading from scripts, actors playing roles in a show at The Storeroom, Melbourne. Yet each carries a pencil and uses it to make alterations. Actors yes, but actors playing writers who have written a play, joking and laughing about the vain silliness of the theatre. A self reflective dig at a scenario all too familiar...Yet ‘Him’ and ‘Her’, and the oceanic set they are immersed within also hint at an interior space—the masculine and feminine sides of playwright Ross Mueller. Two sides of one personality walking a line between melodramatic realism (a child has died), expressionism, and a self-reflective preoccupation with not just the writing process, but the process of creating a play. The passage from reading to rehearsal through to the public performance of private lives grieving over the loss of a child. Is it the playwright’s ‘baby’ that has gone to the grave? An intimate piece of writing Mueller has offered up for scrutiny to an arbitrary audience ? Or is it a ‘real’ child who has died? Does it really matter?

The human heart is a labyrinth of interconnecting chambers, at its most palpable when dissected in the theatre. Overlay the glib and distant recorded voice of a character who may be a representation of the surface mind of the playwright masquerading as a TV boothman, and Mueller’s play is complete. The omnipotent playwright, aware of his absurd situation, and the absurdity of his creation, delineates the contours of a ‘heart’ that can only be made apparent by a strange contradiction—a distant view of intimate space. One eye is on the story being told, another on the effect of the story as it unfolds on the writer’s emotions. Or perhaps this is just a play about the loss of a child and its effect upon 2 ordinary people? What is this dream we call the theatre and what of the theatremakers whom playwrights ask to interpret their dreams?

Director Brett Adam skilfully teases out the manifold concerns of a difficult script while Todd MacDonald and Fiona Macleod provide the emotional crunch that made Construction... a go-see show, one that entertains yet also challenges its audience by suggesting its melodrama is just another device within a play, within a play, within a play...Such is the oblique resonance of a work well constructed within Construction of the Human Heart.

Construction of the Human Heart, writer Ross Mueller, director Brett Adam, performers Todd MacDonald, Fiona Macleod, lighting design Rob Irwin, set design Luke Pither; The Storeroom, Melbourne, Aug 2-21

RealTime issue #69 Oct-Nov 2005 pg. 34

© Tony Reck; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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