Keraunothnetophobia is the fear of being hit by satellites or random falling objects. Sufferers will retreat into isolated shelter, stricken with anxiety at the mere thought of venturing outside. Robin and Jacqui, the main characters in James Graham’s A History Of Falling Things, are afflicted with this irrational fear.
In an Australian premiere, The Ensemble Theatre presents a production of Graham’s play. Director Nicole Buffoni evinces riveting and empathetic performances from a strong cast. Eric Beecroft plays Robin as naive, child-like, and yearning to experience life but utterly terrified of the outside world. Having developed his condition at an early age he has come to accept it – or at least, has given in – and created his own version of reality. Jacqui is played by Sophie Hensser who portrays her as an unwilling victim. Her phobia being brought on in adulthood as a post-traumatic response to a terrorist attack.
Robin and Jacqui meet online via a support group. Their cyber relationship is augmented through syncronised experiences and proxy contact enabled by the affable courier, Jimmy, played with alacrity by Sam O’Sullivan.
Merridy Eastman as Lesley, Robin’s mother, is wonderfully comical yet also sensitive. Brian Meegan plays Reece, Jacqui’s father, simple, loving, but perplexed by his daughter’s condition.
The small, somewhat cloistered space in the Ensemble is used to great advantage by set designer Anne Gardiner, who enhances the sense of confinement by filling the stage with furniture, a floor to ceiling back wall serves as a projection screen and a multi-functional prop.
Essentially the play is a sweet love story that explores the difference between phobia and fear. You will sigh, you will smile, and you will come away knowing about many bizarre things that have fallen unexpectedly from the sky. (RB)
Jul 22–Aug 20, varied performance times. Ensemble Theatre, 78 McDougall St, Kirribilli. $66-$73. Tickets & info: ensemble.com.au
BY RITA BRATOVICH