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SplashZone - Greyscale Theatre Company (Summer Nights)

Updated: Jan 24

Reviewed by Kate O'Sullivan


What goes on behind the camera when the camera stops? A question that is often asked of Hollywood, but not so often about the adult film industry. Not so in this new show by Greyscale Theatre Company. SplashZone looks into the moral debate but also the often unheard perspective of those who make adult media, and who should control the stories being told. 

The script does a good job of pushing a narrative but also allowing for the discussion of the issue to take place. The moments that are the strongest are those where we almost hear the voices of those whose experiences may have informed the script, in terms of how they feel about how they are portrayed by mainstream media. The reality TV idea helps support this, giving us a reason why we are seeing these discussions happen. The honesty sits well against some of the more "performative" moments, seeing the flick between the real person and the character they play for the films they are making. 

With a small cast of four, the differentiation between the different characters plays an important role in the telling of this story. Zoe Smith as Cherry drives a lot of the drama of the piece, and fulfils the stereotype well, with the brash confidence we often ascribe to women in the adult film industry. There are moments where it would have been nice to see the difference between the softer moments and the brasher 'performative' ones be a bit bigger, to telegraph the hardened exterior even more. The softer scene between Cherry and Fannie (Amber Gilmore) was a highlight moment and example of this switching, which did leave us wanting it more. 

Sophia Kenna does a lovely job with the more grounded Sasha, whose hold on normality and the world outside the set provides the audience with a way into the story. Her scene work with Dan (Mitchell Walley), especially as she becomes less trusting of him, gave stakes to what might have been quite a linear narrative otherwise. There were moments where I wished all the performers had dwelled on some of the emotions a little longer, rather than run over the top of some quite lovely tension or emotional work, but by and large, the show didn't lose anything from this not happening.

The costuming and set set up the story well, although it would have been nice to see some variance in clothing just to delineate different days as the story progressed. The large couch and general layout of the set worked well but perhaps could have been pulled further downstage just to allow the performers a little more flexibility of movement around it. I'd also have loved to see some more interaction with the clothing rack and/or some more overtly thematic garments on it, just to add more dimension to the set itself.

There were some technical challenges when it came to the space itself. The minimal lighting rig in the Blue Room's Kaos Room meant that there were some dark spots, especially behind the couch where the performers did tend to end up dwelling. This is in part to do with the layout of the space, with the audience in a V at the front of the stage, which pushed the action upstage.

The television screen was a great addition, firmly attaching us to a certain time period and giving us a great secondary perspective, but it was set so far back in the room that those moments were almost too small. This is a limitation in the space, especially with the audience layout, so it would be nice to see a future rendition of the show with it placed more prominently or further downstage.

All in all, a show well worth getting down to see. The performances are strong, with a good take on the subject matter in an accessible way. One to catch as part of a night out during Fringe World and Summer Nights.

Promotional image supplied by theatre company

Reviewer Note: The tickets for this review were supplied by the theatre company.


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