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December 17, 2021

I performed my latest solo show, an adaptation of Albert Camus' modern classic, The Stranger, at The Ralph Wilson Theatre, Gorman Arts Centre, from 8-17 December. The production survived postponements due to building renovations, then a covid lockdown in Canberra, so Camus was my companion through many long months of stop-start rehearsal. Unlike any of my previous solo shows (this one was number...6, I think?), The Stranger was very contained, and about as far as you can get from physical theatre. I took it on as I was craving a great text to grapple with, and it felt like a big leap into the unknown, trusting the audience's appetite for a deeper, more subtle, slower-burning experience. I'm ecstatic - or incredibly relieved? - that the response of audiences and critics alike was tremendously positive, and the show really landed as I wanted it to.

The role of Meursault was a wonderful character study, and the simplicity and directness of the text meant there was nowhere to hide. Every show calls for a different approach, but this one, more than any I've done, commanded me 'to serve': serve the text, serve the story, and don't get in its way. Invent nothing, deny nothing. Invite being seen. I felt that for the experience to work as a theatrical event, I had to retain the atmosphere of the novel, and be so pellucid in my performance that the audience were really and truly invited in, to walk this journey with the character.

I edited down the text of the novel during the 2020 lockdown during my residency at Belco Arts, cutting it down by a third, however it was still easily the longest solo show I've done - 2 hours, plus interval. The initial run of four shows sold out, and an additional two nights were added. Everything was made possible thanks to the support and flexibility of Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres, artsACT, who supported the production through a grant, and the Camus estate.

One of my favourite reviews for the show, by Joe Woodward at City News, can be read here.

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