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THEATRE: 10 SEPTEMBER 2014

By GRAEME WILLINGHAM

Betrayal unravelled in charcoal

Waking Up Dead, by Trudy Hellier | Directed by Susie Dee

fortyfivedownstairs  & HeLD Productions | fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne | Until 14 September

Sole performer Caroline Lee uses charcoal drawings on a huge, white floor-to-ceiling panel that also runs across the floor towards the audience to illustrate the despair of her husband’s betrayal. The scribbling has a strong impact, reinforcing the narration of her character’s memories and her own identity during the relationship.

Her story is overlaid with flash-forward recordings of media and police interviews surrounding her husband’s double life and disappearance.

In the up-close, 100-seat fortyfivedownstairs theatre, Lee gives a convincing performance, holding suspense created at the outset by her character’s emotional fragility.

While Lee is the sole performer on the white canvas, sound designer Ian Moorhead sits at his control panel and interacts with her, without speaking.

Written by Trudy Hellier — an AFI and Australian Writers Guild award-winning playwright, screenwriter and actor — Waking Up Dead is based on several true stories.

Hellier says the play examines who we are in relation to our past: “If your past was to be reinterpreted, re-examined in the light of a massive betrayal, would that have any impact on who you are or who you believe yourself to be?”