In Cold Light by Duncan Ley. New Century Productions directed by Stephen Pike at Theatre 3Wed-Sat August 14-30, 2003.
It's not fashionable to talk too directly of the ethics in telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Too many people in positions of responsibility might be embarrassed, and we should respect their feelings after all. In Cold Light is an old-fashioned play on this point, and therefore is a highly relevant allegorical investigation of social leaders like Governors-General, Prime and other Ministers, and business CEOs of recent years.
The author, and indeed God, will not permit me to reveal much of the plot of The Inspector's (Duncan Ley) examination of Father Christian Lamori (Michael Sparks), Deputy Principal of St Matthew's Boys' School. The Inspector interrogates at times obliquely, sometimes bluntly, once or twice even violently, but always unswervingly. It takes only an hour and a half for the shamelessly symbolically named Lamori to reveal his inner life, and the manner of his leaving it.
If this sounds mysterious, so be it. This mystery is enticing as Lamori wriggles under The Inspector's pin. Following the twists and turns of Ley's script, performed with admirable technical skill by both actors, becomes an intellectual exercise which any crime fiction addict cannot afford to miss. The ending is a neat surprise / reprise.
At first I thought, Oh God, not another play about Christian, even specifically Catholic guilt, but gradually The Inspector's role in playing with Lamori's cover-ups to avoid the truth, came to parallel the author's playing with our understanding of the situation. The final revelation, the folk-Christian picture of the after-life, is left for us to consider as a humorous metaphor rather than deadly serious literal truth.
Though there are potential depths of characterisation left unexplored, In Cold Light, Ley's second play, is well worth a visit. Technical design and production is excellent. We can look forward to more New Century Productions and more Duncan Ley plays.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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