‘Bea in the Basement’ was immersive.
The audience arrived at the Mount Ommaney Centre Car Park armed only with location “The Bunker”, the nervous but intrigued audience members slowly congregate at “section purple A”, already immersed in the experience of the show. With what can only be described as trepidation they enter the basement. Once there, they find someone who they could only assume was Bea, unconscious on the floor in front of them.
The rest of the set, cleverly designed by Lucian Berkovich-Robles also enhances the immersion for the audience, most cleverly by the use of picnic blankets as a seating option. Once everyone is settled the play begins, with the entrance of another strange figure.
‘Bea in the Basement’ is a production that truly keeps you guessing, which is precisely what you want from a mystery. The play revolves around Bea, and newfound “friend” Gia, and how they handle the situation of being kidnapped.
The script itself, written by Victoria Posner, contains a wonderful mix of tension, mystery and genuine humanity. The only criticism one could offer is that there were perhaps too many small segmented scene ideas, where it could have been more effective to select 3 different ideas and explore them deeply while progressing the time through montage between them.
In saying that, Posner has truly mastered the ability to write dialogue. The script flowed through casual, natural speech patterns that were perfectly tuned to the character’s distinct personalities. Both Gia and Bea had their own styles of speaking, something truly difficult to achieve in playwriting, and these styles played into every facet of their characters perfectly.
The direction of this piece, also by Victoria Posner, was effective in the intimate space. It was realistic to the situation and clever for the style of immersive theatre chosen by Posner. There are moments where Posner could have perhaps immersed the audience more, however, overall it was very well done. Additionally, Posner has done an excellent job casting actors for the roles and working to bring them together with a very natural and believable rapport between the two.
Sabrina Williams as Bea did an excellent job portraying the many emotional changes required of her through the script. A deeper exploration of some of the more intense moments of the piece may have allowed her to better contrast the moments of light and shade throughout. In saying this she should be commended for her commitment to the character, for maintaining it throughout, and for making the audience root for what is ultimately an anti-hero.
Every single nuance of the character of Gia was brilliantly captured by Georgie Cufone in this production. Perhaps analysing the text a bit more and deciding on precisely how hard she wanted to lean into the dual nature of her character would have cleaned up some of the slightly messy interactions between the two characters. In saying that, as both sides of Gia, Cufone did an excellent job to bring natural naivety and truthfulness to the character.
“Bea in the Basement” has finished its run at Anywhere Theatre Fest, however, ensure you keep your eye out for it possible in future circuits. If anything keep your eye on these upcoming actresses and creatives.