Review: Tiresia, Etcetera Theatre

Playing on gender, death, myth and science Tiresia is undeniably engaging. An adaptation of the Greek myth of the blind prophet Tiresias who famously became a woman for seven years, this production reveals layer after layer of meaning as the truth surrounding the identity of Tiresia – the woman – unfolds.

As Natasha Killam in the title role waddles on stage with inexplicable injuries to greet her much older friend Harold played by the exemplary Albert Clack, the audience is thrown into a guessing game that lasts the entirety of the play.

It’s a slow start, as the characters set the myth and modern-day mystery into action, and this pedestrian pace sadly dominates Tiresia as a whole, with its lengthy scene changes, and similarly laboured descriptions of the past. However, the story itself saves the day as the audience is kept waiting for the players to edge closer to the truth.

Natasha Killam puts in an emotionally charged turn as Tiresia, balancing the masculine and the feminine within the character well. From mannerism to tone of voice, Killam captures the essence of the character of Tiresia, and brings a sense of veracity into what turns out to be a fairly outlandish tale.

Unfortunately, she is not matched well with Marissa Joseph who plays her unwitting admirer, and her best friend Harold’s granddaughter. Joseph gets off to a hesitant start, and the audience has to strain to hear her quiet tones. That said she soon hits her stride, and as she gains confidence on stage manages to bring a touch of much needed humour to proceedings.

However, the real stars of the show are Albert Clack and Louise Morell who demonstrate that experience often has the edge on youthful enthusiasm. Their slick and believable performances are what push Tiresia out of its comfort zone and into something more exciting.

Morell’s turns as Tiresia’s jilted partner, and later the bereft Italian mother Celia may not dominate the stage in terms of time, but her performances are the most memorable and lasting of all. It is here where the audience begins to care about Tiresia.

Likewise Clack demonstrates a real knack for intonation, and his performance not only underlines the importance of voice, but perfectly recalls the typical pub dweller and downtrodden husband in Harold.

Tiresia is an experimental tale, that keeps you hooked until the very end. But perhaps most importantly, you find yourself still thinking about it hours later.

Tiresia plays Etcetera Theatre until July 16.