THE AGE OF AROUSAL
The current production of Linda Griffith’s rousing and elegantly hilarious The Age of Arousal, running at Factory Theatre until November 8th, sports a perfect ensemble of five women and a single man. Before the play began I told my theatre companion that there were no men in the cast, having unfrugally forgotten the lone male member from the last production I saw of the show. As Everard Madden, (insert the invisible ‘h’ - Ever hard - and according to the script, he often is!) Sam Kalilieh holds his own with a strong, smouldering sensuality and a powerful tenderness as his character acts as romantic foil of sorts to a quintet of feminist minded gals hell bent upon making there own way in a culture less than half a century shy of historic female emancipation – the vote! With our own strained voting structure having flexed its flawed muscles very recently one cannot help but see just how far we’ve come and just how far we’ve receded while watching Griffith’s brilliant historical dramedy as it races wildly through the ways in which single lives are shaped, doomed, celebrated, and refreshened by particular left’ish political strains that take lifetimes to materialize and can be washed away with the stroke of an imprudent parliamentary pen.
All five women possess a formidable skill for moving in and out of interior thoughts as director Jennifer Brewin’s blocking and physicality has allowed them to create - on a mostly bare stage – a dark expansive atmosphere paradoxically filled with lightness and laughter - the perfect
punctuating force for the very serious gender warfare at hand. Aviva Armour-Ostroff, Marie Beath Badian, Leah Doz, Juno Rinaldi, and Julie Stewart give layered, idiosyncratic performances that presents that rare ensemble creation where all performers shine individually and holistically as they share their talent for comedy and tragedy within this brilliant vehicle for feminine – and masculine – agency in the same body at the same time. Gender is proven both fluid and stalwart as three sisters and two lesbian’ish women fight for their rights to support themselves and each other.