play nineteen: the dark room

The Light Room. (Belvoir's production of The Dark Room, 2011).
The Light Room. (Belvoir’s production of The Dark Room, 2011).

Author: Angela Betzien

Published: 2009

Synopsis: A deep night in a hotel room somewhere in the Northern Territory spans time and space to show how six lost souls encounter and mark each other irrevocably.

What moved me: the quality of tension Betzien creates in her work. The image that springs to mind is that moment in the action blockbuster when the bad guy has fallen off the side of a building and has grabbed onto the good guy’s hand to pull him down with him. The tension in this work is that hand grip – a life and death struggle centred in a bunched fist.

I also had an incredibly visceral reaction to the decision to lock down the space of the playworld. The three sets of duologues all occur in the same space – it’s the same room after all – but they intercut and overflow into each other. All the characters are in the same room in a way that allows us to suspend our understanding of conventional time passing and instead focus on the extent to which we imprint ourselves onto our collective sense of place.

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