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February 7, 2012 / Siobhan Argent

Here, in the Sugarcane


Published February 2012 at Arts Hub

I’ve definitely never seen such an impractical, but somehow logical, way to use fly-fishing pants. In Here, in the Sugarcane, props are cleverly used in the process of creating an emotionally claustrophobic, semi-apocalyptic portrait of the tight emotional strings that connect three sisters.

The set design is clever for its simplicity and usefulness; not a single prop nor even the backdrop goes to waste. This includes a floor covered in soil, making for an interesting clean-up activity for stage hands. The play itself doesn’t muck around, with a duration of around 45 minutes, bookended neatly by scenes shrouded in an eerie darkness. But Here, in the Sugarcane does leave the audience a little shrouded in confusion at a relatively indefinite ending, which can summarise the basic difficulty with this compact play.

The plot is simple but gives the play room to move. Three sisters (Kerith Manderson-Galvin, Tegan Crowley, Lucy Moir) fight with hidden demons that gradually emerge as they battle through an intense heat. It sees them desperately trying to conserve water by wearing fly-fishing pants to save their sweat. Forced to flee their home after this intense, unexplained heat whips through their world, the sisters wait out the future amid sugarcane fields. While Lamb daydreams and whimsically rearranges their situation into something feasible, Freddie continuously makes plans in her automated ‘responsible’ mode, and Freda lounges in a chair she managed to save from their destroyed house. She occasionally throws sarcastic wisecracks in the direction of her sisters each time they say something pointlessly optimistic. The trio of characters work well together, bouncing off each other as they struggle to understand their situation and the past that haunts them.

However, this is where the difficulty arises. Too much of their past lives are left to the audience’s imagination. It may be a personal preference but I would prefer to know more about the shared history of the sisters, as Here, in the Sugarcane dangles on the edge of being a play with intrigue and a higher level of complexity but falters with a lack of detail. The structure and careful characterisation allude to thoughtful planning, but ultimately it is the restriction of information that leaves the audience grasping for more, wondering whether the sliver of the sisters’ shared past we are offered is enough to make the audience collectively interested in the future or in fact the mere existence of these people.

Here, in the Sugarcane is certainly worth a look, and it certainly showcases the promising and consistent offerings at Studio 246. Perhaps a tweak of this play would add some well-deserved length and more-detailed background the audience might be searching for.

Here, in the Sugarcane
Written by Erin Kelly
Director: Brigid Gallacher
Cast: Kerith Manderson-Galvin, Tegan Crowley, Lucy Moir

Studio 246, 246a Sydney Road, Brunswick
Season: 2 February–11 February.

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