The addictive rush of performing comes with a hefty price, but does it have to be this way? Written and directed by Matthew Gouldesbrough, ELEGY Theatre’s Truth/Reconciliation thrusts the audience into the pressures, insecurities, and even trauma of an actor’s life.
The experimental production is performed by real-life couple Hannah Morrison and Jake Felts, and while the show packs a valuable story into a stimulating form, the show’s content is suffocated by its rapid pace.
Through fragmented shreds of memories, thoughts and events, Bea and Alex perform their crumbling psyche as they are submerged in fears and anxieties. The two attempt to pull themselves together as an industry tears them apart, and their world glitches and dissociates along with the imaginatively-used onstage technology. Delayed projections of live recordings and distorted sound effects give the actor’s world an oppressive edge.
The caffeinated pacing could be appreciated by some as an artistic decision, a hyperventilating account of an overwhelmed mind. However, Truth/Reconciliation hits the ground sprinting and provides little time, if any, for the audience to catch up. More of an emotional rocket than a rollercoaster, it is easy to disconnect from the high-speed performance and miss the poetic language of the script.
The script itself is very expressive, and it is most impactful when allowed to breathe. Sometimes the flowery descriptions make the emotions of the characters feel rather dramatised, but for the most part the pain comes across as strikingly real.
Hannah Morrison and Jake Felts deliver committed performances, and both are endearing and talented actors. Their connection to the distressing content of the show is clear throughout, but it is also evident why they continue to dedicate themselves to the tolling artform. Psychological reasons (as discussed in the show) aside, their acting is remarkable.
It is unfortunate that the lightning speed impacts so many of Truth/Reconciliation’s wonderful elements. With the potential to do some really powerful damage, the show ultimately shoots off with its audience left behind.