By Suzie Miller. Griffin Theatre Company. SBW Stables Theatre (NSW). February 27 – April 11, 2015. World Premiere.

The human touch is a powerful thing. It soothes, frightens, energises and stimulates. It can burn and can turn skin to ice. 

Suzie Miller’s new play presented by Griffin Theatre Company Caress/Ache explores the human experience behind the science of touch.

We meet 10 characters portrayed by 5 actors (Ian Stenlake, Helen Christinson, Sabryna Te’o, Gary Clementson and Zoe Carides) who each swim through the struggle to connect – be that within a marriage, culture or profession.

Amidst a stark, cold and austere set (clever design by Sophie Fletcher) made of white and stainless steel walls, tables and a bath (that works!), we see emotional, warm, fiery people fighting against all that is clinical and heartless. A beautiful, literal juxtaposition.

And the battle is real but the non-linear, choppy structure with little to no context for each journey makes it hard to keep pace with the combustive characters and as a result connect with their struggle.

There are moments of beautiful storytelling (direction by Anthony Skuse), particularly by Zoe Carides’ Alice, and Suzie Miller has chosen a humanising and handsome subject to explore.

Caress/Ache makes for a touching and thought-inspiring night of theatre that asks us to consider the delicate ways we physically connect with one another.

Maryann Wright

Images: Helen Christinson and Gary Clementson & Ian Stenlake and Zoe Carides. Photographer: Brett Boardman.

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