Schism

Schism
By Melanie Bainbridge. La Mama (Vic). La Mama Courthouse. Director: Suzie Hardgrave. Set design: Casey-Scott Corless. Sound design: Skye Klein. Lighting design: Rebecca Etchell with John McKissock from Clearlight Shows. February 9 - 19, 2012

When you walk into a theatre and the floor is littered with Petrie dishes and a single row of seats line the stage on four sides, you know you're in for innovative, edgy theatre.

Schism is a cerebral science-fiction thriller that tells the story of two twins separated at birth, with opposite psychological profiles, drawn together on their quest to end the world in the same way.

Writer Melanie Bainbridge is the older sister of performer Pippa Bainbridge and although not twins themselves, they sync with each other in ways that twins are known for: finishing each other's sentences and swapping ideas in collaborative chaos.

This is a dense play and the audience needs to adjust to how the story is being told. Casey-Scott Corless's clinical, laboratory-inspired set points to how to read the play and while Rebecca Etchell and John McKissock's lighting and Skye Klein's sound design reinforce the atmosphere, more work is needed to make Pippa Bainbridge's switches from one twin to the next clear.

Some options would be using different lighting or music for each twin, or keeping one character to one place on the stage.

Pippa Bainbridge does give a sturdy performance that shows a level of technical mastery and confidence with the material.

It's not lighthearted fare, but it is worthy of a night on the town to see something fresh.

Daniel G Taylor

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