Words Glenn Blomfield
As the title of the show evokes or hints at, or even metaphorically speaks, HeadSand asks, “do we have our heads stuck in the sand, or are our heads like sand passing through time”? Either way, like the title, you will be asking many questions as the play can be a real head-scratcher. The stage is set like a Chairmans board room of a nondescript company. Who is running this company/business is unknown. When entering the theatre we are seated with the stage area in the middle, a long office desk surrounding in a U-shape, where the front row of the audience can sit around it, intertwined with some of the actors sitting with you during the play.
At the far end of the stage is a screen, which at the beginning of the play is playing scenes from a old ‘Twilight Zone’ TV show. This in some way helps set the stage, tone or mood of what lays ahead. Its a show that takes us into the ‘Twilight Zone’ a bizarre and surreal world where things are not what they seem, not easily explained, crazy and mind bending. The screen projects title cards of each act throughout the play. Its a new play written by Benjamin Henson, it takes us into some type of apocalyptic world, where we are trapped inside this company boardroom, that plays out like some neurotic audition, interrogation interview. With the stage set as it is, the audience is looking onto each other, playing the third wall where we are woven into the play. We the audience are participating in some way in this maddening play set in-front of us. Outside is raining, acid rain, there is an alien like parasite invading your skin, flooding, everything seems to be drowning in water.
“Refuse” is inside, but inside becomes more of a conscious state of mind, a rabbit hole of neurosis. Being inside the Company, the play is set with levels of abusive play roles, working down the floor levels and ranks of those working inside, right down to basement and cleaning staff. But that is as best as I can describe it. HeadSand then goes into whole new levels of surreal tangents, that are cleverly interlinked if you keep your attention and wits about you. You will be challenged and befuddled with what’s happening in front of you. The play jumps straight into a maddening firing diatribe of dialogue, you are drowning in bizarre information trying to pieces things together and put yourself in the action that is set forth.
As much as you want to get in, you feel pushed out, it is certainly an experience to behold. The acting is a ferocious tour de force, a maddening pace, relentless power performances, you just feel awash with emotions and erratic behaviours, acting at a high level athletic pace. It can be tiring to watch as they put themselves through their paces. A tight cast of seven actors, Michelle Hine, Sheena Irving, Sam Snedden, Saraid Cameron, Mel Odedra, Johanna Cosgrove and Conan Hayes. HeadSand is not an easy play to explain with logic, something has happened, something that is intrusive, and for for the next 75 minutes you will drown is this crazy world of surreal TWILIGHT ZONE. It is trippy, hard to explain but worth the ride. I am still questioning, as I said ‘something has happened’. It is your turn to work out that existential crisis in question.
The show runs from 26th March – 6 April, at the Basement Theatre Auckland.