By Lucy Kirkwood
Director: Jessica Arthur
Starring: Jacqueline McKenzie, Mandy McElhinney, Charles Wu, Jason Chong and Annie Byron
Lucy Kirkwood is a playwright/alchemist who tackles contentious themes in both art and science and dazzles us with brightness.
I was already a fan before I saw Kirkwood’s ‘Mosquitoes’ on Saturday night. I’d seen her ‘The Children’ last year and loved the way she wallpapered the mistakes and successes of a long-term relationships over a nuclear reactor disaster that has occurred somewhere in England. ‘The Children’ was a little like a migration of the bravery of those Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant elder workers who volunteered to lead the clean-up. By moving location and fleshing out the personal, Kirkwood embedded the lives of her fictitious characters with so many moments of radiance you got a little confused with regards to where the personal transcendence ceased and the radiation began.
Well …. in ‘Mosquitoes’, Kirkwood sets her drama at CERN (The European Organisation for Nuclear Research) near Geneva and gives one of the family members (‘Alice’ played by Jacqueline McKenzie), the role of scientist working with the Large Haldron Collider; the ATLAS experiment attempting to observe the elusive Higgs Boson (God) particle. Of course, all the messy bits of being in a family and having human relationships are just as if not more prominent in the ‘Mosquitoes’ script as is this scientific quest, and Kirkwood brings in gold again.
How? I really don’t want to spoil this play for those who have not yet seen it so I’ll throw in a couple of insights and hints to lure you to the Sydney Theatre Company production.
One: A new universe is launched by seeding a black hole; an ability that is ancestrally related to the adult life of a troubled teenage boy we first meet earlier in the play.
Two: The only non-scientific family member (‘Jenny’ played by Mandy McElhinney) actually saves the ATLAS experiment from the masterly hacking ability of said teenage boy, who is emotionally devastated because he is the victim of revenge porn and learning about the effects of exponential growth in a very real way as a photo of his penis is circulating the web!
(*This was my favourite scene in a play where truly tragic events and a lot of humour collide into purposeful chaos! I loved the stage craft of characters and atoms almost doing a duplicate shambolic dance through time and space. So clever!)
Do go and see ‘Mosquitoes’.
Sydney Theatre Company presents
Until 18 May