Whoever has found their first great love as a teenager will recognise many familiar conflicts in this two-hander, written and co-performed by Iskandar R. Sharazuddin.
Alex (Sharazuddin) and Nancy (Essie Barrow) are only seventeen when they meet whilst dissecting a pig’s heart during a biology class. He’s a bit too timid, she’s very confident. He hides, she chases. But their mutual passion for pun contests is a clear sign that they’re meant to be. Swept up by a whirlwind romance, they move in together, share a bank account and dream about getting married.
Fast forward ten years, we see them again at a mutual friend’s wedding. They’re no longer an item, but their blistering chemistry is still burning. This time around, however, they’re called to analyse their contribution to the couple and determine why it hasn’t been enough to make it work. Conflicting narratives clash, as the circumstances offer no escape from each other. Eventually, the truth of how and why they drifted apart is forced out.
Dissected and pieced together again, the resulting relationship is more than the sum of its parts, leaving us with the satisfying sensation that it has gone full circle.
Sharazuddin is a stunning wordsmith, effortlessly weaving comedy in the very thread of a complex psychological analysis. The unfolding of his drama relies on speech, as much as on movement, lighting and sound.
Director Jessica Rose McVay conceives physical sequences where every move, every twitch of a muscle or bat of an eyelid is meticulously choreographed to transmit an emotion. With the recurrent sound of a heartbeat setting the pace, the performers’ stage presence is mesmerising. Their bodies match like the pieces of a jigsaw.
At crucial times, spotlights positioned on the floor project on the backwall their oversized shadows – a reminder that our unsolved issues can expand and take over our lives. The use of purple lighting as the sum of red and blue recalls the fusion of two contrasting egos, drawn to become one.
If any flaws must be found, these would point at the author’s more articulate development of his own character compared to Nancy’s. Yet again, it’s not often that we’re let into the emotional space of a man and get to look at a relationship through his eyes. Far from being superficial, this is an open-hearted invitation to appreciate male fragility and the malfunctioning dynamics that earn them the accusations of ‘behaving like a man’.
A feast for the eyes and for the soul, Post-Mortem stands out for its emotionally charged production values and some daring pun contests.
Written by: Iskandar R. Sharazuddin
Director, Movement and Dramaturgy by: Jessica Rose McVay
Produced by: Ellandar Productions and 45North
Booking Link: https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/post-mortem-af2020
Booking Until: 23 February 2020