Gnat's Nightmare written and directed by George Huitker. Free Rain Theatre Company at Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre, 8pm. Until October 28, 2000. Bookings 6257 1077.
And book you should, especially considering how small the Courtyard Theatre is. It's an intimate space for a nightmare, and you ought not to miss Huitker's work. It's original, whimsical and telling - at times a light, humorous drama movement workshop, and then something else again as a young boy's image of himself is shattered with twists and turns of incomprehensible flashes of reality from the world of older children and adults.
Fortunately, as the real little boy on the video tells us, you can end the nightmare: "You just open your eyes." And indeed that's what Huitker does for us all - opens our eyes to the way the news and the fictions of adult society become mixed, refracted and reflected in the minds of our children. Huitker's young Gnat (pronounce the G, if you please) even has to face the nightmare of his own parents - in a house of carpets which eat you, taps which deliberately spray you with hot water and other unpleasantries - fail him when he calls for help.
Though we are relieved when Gnat at last finds peace in slumber, and Huitker allows us a happy ending, his surreal pictures of computer games, war games, aliens from somewhere else in the universe, the classroom "blah, blah", playground hate and rejection, a shadow which turns against us, mysterious physical sensations and the mother of all red-back spiders, leave us knowing that it is not just little Gnat who faces terror every night. Too often we humans create worse terrors in such real places as the Middle East, and replay them nightly on TV.
For a small scale theatre company in a tiny performing space, I was amazed by the high quality production values in a piece which welds sound scapes and videos with complex lighting, colours and lots of movement by a cast of 18. Everything fitted together, everything worked, every detail was right. Even if you feel dubious about nightmares, just go for the theatricality. It's worth it.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
Return to Frank McKone'sHome Page