Have you ever felt that you were part of something bigger than yourself? That there was more to the universe than just the atoms and light around you? Did you ever just want to disappear? Rorschach Beast – Perth’s rising star theatre company – addresses all of these mysteries of the universe and turns them into the purest light in their newest work, Hive Mind.
From the singular mind of Geordie Crawley, Hive Mind strives to address the way people interact with each other, the earth, their spirituality, and beyond. Set in the small town community of St Augustine, on the edge of Box Elder Canyon where young schoolgirl Haley Woodward (Elise Wilson) goes missing. As the gossiping small town tries to reconcile what has happened, Lead Detective Dale (St John Cowcher) and returned expat Kate (Charlotte Otton) investigate the disappearance – at times falling prey to superstition and fear-mongering.
Crawley is rather talented when it comes to creating well-rounded characters with instantly understandable back-stories. His experience performing improvisation comedy is put to use here as he is able to create these characters quickly and establish their motivations very early on. We recognise instantly that Dale’s partner Austin (Haydon Wilson) is a caring and nurturing soul who is disenfranchised with his sense of community after losing in his campaign to become a council member. We also have the measure of the victor in the council war – Jackie (Alicia Osyka) whose bullying and gross actions represent every power-hungry politician to have ever existed. On the surface, it may seem as though these characters are cliche – and there may be few tropes used here – but as time goes on, it is apparent that they all represent a different part of a puzzle – the fabric of a tapestry that when interwoven make up the community – or the hive.
Austin’s journey is perhaps the most interesting – he appears to be the only character that is allowed development. He achieves this through his enlightenment upon discovering the secrets of a bee hive. The hive becomes a microcosm of the greater universe, and Austin comes to believe he has unlocked all of its secrets. Wilson is an incredibly visceral performer. He sweats and spits his way through an impassioned performance and sermonises in a disturbingly convincing manner. Osyka shines as the bullying Jackie. Her politician’s mask only slips to reveal her disdain for the people she represents and the nature she wants to bulldoze when someone comes close to threatening her power. Like a child, she pushes her agenda through without listening to others and does so with a child’s mean spirit.
Otton’s Kate is a fairly static character, and when revealed that she used to be bullied by Jackie, it appears that there will be a resolution within their plot lines – I feel like this is a storyline that isn’t explored quite to its full potential, as many people don’t get the chance to confront their past demons in the way that was presented to Kate. She ‘evolves’ throughout the play, yet it seems that it is all for show and there is no real substance to her transformation. It is only when placed on the true path to enlightenment that we see a real change.
There are some wonderful metaphors within the work – the hive as a community that thrives by working as a collective, rather than as individuals; multiple bees representing the atoms of light that can control the universe when truly mastered; wanting to be a part of something bigger. Austin undergoes a Kafka-esque metamorphosis and is able to join the universe. Hive Mind is a strong character-based play. There are quite a few plot holes and several moments feel rushed and unrealistic (not the supernatural elements, as they are justified in the world it is set) and some of the characters are left hovering before their potential, yet overall it’s a clever and considered work. Plus the hexagons and hive motifs, combined with the rather dramatic soundscape and playful lighting create a memorable aesthetic with just enough nods to popular culture throughout to keep you highly entertained.
Review | Laura Money
WHEN: 1 – 19 May 2018 | 7:00pm
WHERE: The Blue Room Theatre
INFO: Tickets $20 – $30 | Duration 70 mins | Recommended 15+ | THEATRE