Red Line Productions’ latest offering begins with a prologue that tells the story of a Sixteenth Century bishop who sexually abuses his illegitimate daughter. Though the crime is never actually depicted it is present throughout the play, reiterated in descendent victims.
“It’s the story about sexual abuse in young women and children and how that crime literally never ends once it’s perpetrated,” explains Jeanette Cronin, writer and co-performer behind I Hate You My Mother. She and fellow performer, Simen Glømmen Bostad, play four different couples across four centuries, who somehow have a linear connection to the ignoble bishop. Each vignette shows a different manifestation of the insidious legacy of sexual abuse.
Although the original perpetrator is a bishop, Cronin insists the play is not a comment on clergy or religion:
“It’s not about the church… It’s more the question of ‘how is this so entrenched and why does it go on forever and how can we possibly shift it?'”
She believes the problem is bigger than the individual crimes and that society needs to explore cultural and psychological factors. For this to happen effectively, men too need to be actively engaged in finding a solution.
“We’re actually reliant on men to help us with this. Women and children can’t fix this problem,” she stated.
In terms of production, the play is very minimal. The costumes and sets are enough to indicate time and place. There is a specially written song used as a leitmotif which is based on the myth of the “bean nighe”, the Scottish equivalent of a banshee and a messenger of death.
“There’s a little bit of witchy revenge going all the way through it,” hinted Cronin.
Though there are some lighter moments, the play is mostly dark and emotionally dense, but it deals with an important issue in a creative and insightful way that should make it imperative viewing. (RB)
Until Feb 11; Tues-Sat 8.15pm, Sun 6.30pm. Old Fitz Theatre, 129 Dowling St (cnr Cathedral St), Woolloomooloo. $30-$42.Tickets & info: www.redlineproductions.com.au
BY RITA BRATOVICH