Review: Withdrawal

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In times of war, all faces seem the same. Such is the haunting message that underpins Withdrawal, the powerful new play from Pitch Productions, written by student writer Horatio Holloway. This latest drama from the theatre company that specialises in new writing, is ambitious, moving and enduringly powerful in its emotional deliverance. In performance at the Mark Hillery Arts Centre at Collingwood College, between Thursday the 1st of February and Saturday the 3rd, this play is quite simply devastating in its beauty.

The production is rooted in a deep sensitivity to the individual feelings of its characters, that speaks of real maturity in artistic form and in acting quality. Indeed, the cast is very able and command the stage throughout. is a magisterial male lead, while Laurie Stephen Davidson, who plays the play’s love interest, Kai, brings a real depth of talent, delivering the successive speeches on German history that intersperse the production with nuance and power.

The production is rooted in a deep sensitivity to the individual feelings of its characters

Expertly directed by Holloway and Emily Lipscombe, the production follows Max Odenthal, a Nazi soldier, on an odyssey through war-torn Europe. Abandoned by his comrades in the Belarusian wilderness and shackled by a crippling addiction to methamphetamine, Odenthal quests for reunition with his lover, Kai, haunted all the way by the ghosts of his past crimes.

provides a poignant and stirring rendition of a destitute mother, whose life has been rent apart by war and violence. She delivers a speech, the subject matter of which is grotesque in its extremity of base ferocity, with the necessary gravitas required, executing each line with a tortured brilliance.

This play has a formidable runtime, coming in at well over three hours, and while the audience’s attention is never lost, a more streamlined script could have perfected this production.

The lighting and sound are truly exceptional, due to the diligent work of the tech teams

The lighting and sound are truly exceptional, due to the diligent work of the tech teams involved, overseen by and Andrew Mullins. With the rise and fall of the action, throughout each breathtaking scene, the effects remain perennially strong, highlighting each undulation of plot with sophistication and care. This aspect of the production reaches its sublime zenith with the ending scene, where the lighting gorgeously captures a key moment in the plot’s denouement.

The whole team behind Withdrawal are definitely ones to watch. There is abounding talent and passion in their ranks, and it is exciting to ponder what they may put on next.

Image credit: Pitch Productions

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