Duncan Graham
Underbelly Productions
The Vaults

Hannah Norris
Hannah Norris
Hannah Norris

The sixty-minute performance of Cut by Duncan Graham is advertised as "part installation, part theatre poem, part noir thriller".

The installation area is certainly distinctive. You can be impressed with its contribution to the atmosphere generated by Russell Goldsmith’s imaginative soundscape and Sam Hopkins's lighting. You can appreciate the spirited acting of Hannah Norris. But if the story being told doesn’t lose you, then its repetitive sequence may wear you out and you are likely to leave the event wondering about its point.

The audience sits either side of a traverse stage in a reasonably small space whose walls consist of stretched clingfilm with two large black mirrors at each end.

A woman who claims she is a flight attendant tells a disturbing story in fragments that are separated by sudden short episodes of total darkness in which we can see nothing.

It is during this darkness that the soundscape seems most intense. Occasionally it is heightened by the low slow rumble of trains passing above us.

When the light is again switched on, the woman will be standing in some other part of the space.

Her story centres on a man with an "eye of ash" who she says has "sniffed her out". She notices him peeping at her from behind a curtain in the plane, then following her to the station and finally lurking outside the door of her home.

Her narrative is interspersed with scraps of other stories. There is the old woman with the large pair of scissors, the two children with a fish and there is a man with a chainsaw killing himself in front of his partner and her lover.

It is difficult to believe the central story or the other fragments. We quickly suspect the woman is an untrustworthy narrator. Perhaps she is simply paranoid or suffering from some other form of mental distress.

Hannah Norris gives a very clear, confident performance. But we can never warm to the character she plays.

By the end of the show, we are left with an unbelievable story with a lot of unexplained strands both in terms of events described and the performance itself. For instance, what was the purpose of the cling film sheets she pulled across the stage in front of the audience or indeed the scissors she waved about?

These might be unimportant if something more than the lighting and the soundscape held our attention. But with a story that seems to go nowhere and characters we can’t believe in, we are simply left with the reflection that sixty minutes can seem a long time.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna