Low (Victorian Theatre Company) - Theatre Works' Explosives Factory - 90 minutes, without interval
Updated: Nov 12, 2022
It is Melbourne 1991. Recession grips the country.
A couple of outcasts are in love but out of work.
They are going nowhere and make do by robbing small retail outlets, stabbing some victims and causing mayhem.
Photos by Chelsea Neate
Emma (Veronica Thomas) is the talker, someone who would like Jay (Matthew Connell) to express himself more.
The pair drinks too much. They have sex. Beyond that, they don’t do much else.
Jay is the more violent. A smaller knife leads to a bigger knife and then a gun. One job leads to a second and then a third and so on.
They dream of a better life, but nothing they do gives you the impression that that is going to happen.
Rather they carry on with their largely meaning existence.
Low, by Daniel Keene, is about struggle and isolation.
While watching I thought of Bonnie and Clyde, who operated in the US during The Great Depression, although they were known for robbing banks.
Still, nothing good would come of that and early on you get the feeling that this pair will suffer the same fate.
Mind you, you will have to see Low to find out whether or not that is true.
I was suitably impressed by the talent involved in this production.
Veronica Thomas is outstanding in her characterisation as she probes away as Emma and pushes Jay’s buttons.
Matthew Connell brings to bear a hangdog look in Jay that only lifts after the “thrill” of another robbery or post coital.
Director Jennifer Sarah Dean ensures the play moves along at pace. Scene changes (28 vignettes) are swift and seamless.
The props (bags, money, knives, masks, booze etc.) are simple but utilitarian and once utilised take their place in specially marked, small taped areas on the floor.
For all intents and purposes, there is the appearance of a crime scene.
It is a most effective device that forms part of the set, the rest of which amounts to little more than a few weathered timbers.
Plaudits to set and costume designer Chelsea Neate.
Keene wrote Low in 1990. More than 30 years on it stands up well.
Victorian Theatre Company’s Low is playing at Theatre Works’ Explosives Factory until 12th November, 2022.