A moving tale of love and conflict
This week Sol comes to the Corpus Playroom to offer up a story that manages to balance many hard-hitting issues with a beautifully moving story about love. Dealing with themes such as colonialism, sexuality and eco-criticism, Ella Palmer‘s play succeeds in creating a vivid community that strives to find hope within disaster.
The story follows a foreign traveller, Bea, who comes to visit a small town in Paraguay. There she meets an artist, Sol, whose beautiful dreams of magic and art are restrained by a controlling father. Guided by an old man through the town’s rich history, when Bea returns she finds it torn apart by drought and conflict.
The play is made vivid and wonderfully moving by the incredibly skilled cast, in particular the three main characters. Rob Monteiro‘s acting as the old man was skilfully done, as he convincingly conveys the wisdom and restricted movements that come with his seniority. When he tells the stories of the town’s mythological background, you truly feel like you are being transported back to the creation of the world. This is complemented by moments of real urgency and assertions of power that reestablish him as the focal point of the old town. He is a constant delight and a real force of positivity and hope throughout the play because of this accurate characterisation, even when times look bleak.
Irisa Kwok‘s Bea is perfectly characterised – when she gets over-excited, it is sometimes hard to keep up with her trains of thought that seem to sprint at 100 miles an hour, an endearing characterisation that leads to brilliant moments of comedy. This also works brilliantly when used to contrast with those oh-so-familiar awkward moments of first love, as well as some truly harrowing responses to the crumbling world around her. Her over-enthusiasm to integrate into the culture also potentially opens up some new complex narratives about foreign powers taking over native peoples, such as when tensions arise at her imposition of help.
Playing the title character, Giorgia Ieraci-Assumma as Sol is delightful from her first entrance. Instantly captivating, she balances the roles of the flirty, curious lover and responsible, powerful daughter with ease, delivering some of the most moving monologues in the play. Her chemistry with each of the characters is tangible, and shows a real care in ensuring these relationships have apt space to grow. She perfectly embodies a divine feminine air as befits her character typification. Her song is also another incredibly moving moment; her hope and courage infuse the play with an energy that leaves you filled with these same emotions.
Supporting roles were filled in by Rena Rawanchaikul, Helen Brookes and also Sam Benatar, whose role as traditionalist and strict father is incredibly convincing and shook the audience to the core. They all contributed to a high-quality production that had a very strong atmosphere. This was also thanks to the innovative set design of Nimisha Iyer, some really stunning lighting on the moon painting by Hillary Qiu and production design by Hei Yan Tsui.
The play does however require some more development in terms of the writing, which at times feels a bit awkward, with some strange interjections and plot holes that could do with filling. Generally, it felt a bit fast-paced in that certain issues seemed to appear without being given the space to be properly explained or developed. There is also a greater issue that seems to potentially border on exoticism. Undoubtedly well-meaning, the script could nevertheless benefit from integrating perspectives closer to the culture of Latin America. However, the play does succeed in raising awareness of multiple issues that are incredibly pertinent.
Overall director Kate Austin is successful in conveying the key messages and themes of this play, resulting in an enjoyable watch. This is most of all in testament to the highly dedicated crew and absolutely spectacular cast, who make it absolutely worthwhile going to see if you’re looking for some really brilliant acting in the Corpus Playroom this week.
Sol is showing on the 15th – 18th of March at 9:30 pm at the Corpus Playroom. Book your tickets here.
Feature image credits: Tungsten Tang