Pomona is a small island in an industrial wasteland. It has canals on either side and one road in and out. There are remnants of concrete buildings littering the abandoned grounds of what was once a port. A labyrinth of catacomb-like rooms is secreted beneath the surface, accessible via a hatch. We don’t actually see any of this in a literal way; it is described by the characters but becomes very vivid in the mind. Pomona in Manchester, England is a real place. Its haunting desolation inspired Alistair McDowall to create his dark, malevolent tale – a mystery thriller that edges against surrealism.
The story is told through a series of vignettes – disordered scenes from a narrative whole that gradually come together like fragments of a torn photo.
Ollie (Amanda McGregor) is looking for her twin sister who has gone missing, suddenly and inexplicably. Her search brings her into contact with Zeppo (Dorje Swallow), a shady, fast-talking, cocky character who owns much of the real estate in the area, including Pomona. Their encounter opens the play and the scene is followed by two men who engage in a violent but clearly staged fight. Moe (James Smithers) and Charlie (Kevin Batilwala) are panicked about being caught by people un-named because of something they’ve done. In a subsequent scene we meet Ollie again – or is it Ollie’s twin sister? She appears to be in a brothel, being shown around by Fay (Lauren Richardson). Gale (Monica Sayers) is a well dressed woman with dubious business interests and Keaton (Jane Angharad) is quiet but sinister, diminutive but oppressive.
It’s a play that unfolds slowly, each scene revealing awful elements of a sordid, disturbing big picture.
Powerfully emotional, possibly triggering.
Until Feb 8. Kings Cross Theatre (KXT), Level 2, Kings Cross Hotel, 244-248 William St, Kings Cross. $20-$42+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.secrethouse.com.au
Reviewed by Rita Bratovich.