Imagine yourself sitting at your kitchen table in your pajamas experiencing a quiet breakfast alone. Then the world rushes in. Breakfast, created and performed by the Independent Aunties (Anna Chatterton, Evalyn Parry and Karin Randoja) takes the simplest of morning rituals and turns it into a complex and thrilling encounter with one woman’s psyche. Without giving any of the intense and frequently discomfiting enjoyment away, be prepared for an opening soundscape that could make the boldest among us giggle and blush.
This workshop production on its first night shone with the polish and professionalism of a highly developed piece of theatre that dabbles in a variety of forms ranging from kitchen-sink drama to the absurd. The storytelling qualities of the script, handled brilliantly by Parry’s rich and varied offstage vocals, are enhanced by a tremendously layered sound design skillfully engineered by technicians Erin Klee and Alex Naylor. With the artistic expertise of designer Richard Windeyer at the helm Breakfast is a prime example of text and tech blending seamlessly into an hour of funny, painful and often gripping drama.
Randoja is a quirkily powerful performer. Her Marnie, the pajama-clad central character, is one of those rare stage personas who engages the audience from the word go. Her angelic physical presence, before she utters a single word, embraces the spectator and becomes even richer as the narrative unfolds. Randoja’s emotional vulnerability and ultimate strength in the face of complex, often fraught, emotion is a joy to watch in even the most harrowing scenes. Her skill is matched equally by Parry’s subtle and irresistible vocals, alongside Chatterton’s mostly silent yet enigmatic presence as she gradually and seductively circles the playing space.
Laird MacDonald’s lighting design powerfully punctuates the production with a simple realistic opening sequence and onstage lighting effects that send the overall drama into high relief. Set and costumes by Julie Fox establish the tone for an evening of unexpected and startling surrealism — Randoja’s simple yet ethereally layered sleepwear, Parry’s androgynous coif and slacks and Chatterton’s sleek chanteuse-like LBD (little black dress) add to the tension of a highly strung and expertly crafted script.
Director and cocreator Brendan Healy has taken a very focused and unobtrusive approach, allowing the performers to move through their text with a fluctuating reserve and grace that attests to the general passion and commitment of this exciting company. The Independent Aunties bring simple, evocative stories into our hearts and minds, titillating and threatening us with the joy of watching sharp, penetrating and politically empowering theatre unfold — in the kitchen.