Pluto

Jon Bonfiglio
The New Writing Collective, GRIT Productions and Mokita Productions
Blue Elephant Theatre
(2008)

Publicity image

What happens when a fascination with what's out there, in that vast, never-ending galaxy, stops you from actually living your life on earth?

On a mountainside in Chile, John Bootes (Bill Hutchens), his daughter Mira (Samantha Hopkins) and his assistant Lau (Matt Addis) spend their days and nights gazing into space, studying constellations, debating whether Pluto is a planet or a star and as we join them they are waiting to see if a shuttle survives its return to earth.

However all is not as it seems; there is all this talk of looking, yet Mira is blind. Blind from birth she has no point of reference, no understanding of what is black and what is white.

The unexpected arrival of Mira's mother Cass (Ruth James), whom John hasn't seen for eighteen years, unearths emotions which have been deeply buried. Pluto rather poetically explores the blurring boundaries of emotion and science, of love and hate.

This sparse mountain top landscape plays host to a family (for want of a better word) who are finally being honest with each other. Resisting the urge to play the melodrama, there was a quiet passion in Samantha Hopkin's Mira, refusing to let the fact that she can't see the stars get in the way of her fascination with them. Just because you can't see something, does it mean that it's not there?

All the while Lau observes from the shadows, wanting to be a part of it, yet always remaining on the outskirts. Essentially narrating the piece through a number of spotlight monologues, Matt Addis was endearing and charming as he delivered Jon Bonfiglio's beautifully written text. There was a connection between him and the audience who were also on the outskirts of the action, observing but never fully drawn in. At times the verbose nature of this script got in the way of cutting to the core emotions of these characters.

In many ways this play can be likened to its subject matter - a star blazing in the distance yet extinguished by the time it reaches us. The flowery language with its array of metaphors and similes, whilst poetic, felt detached and although it is interesting to observe the irony of two people who look at things for a living having a blind daughter, I found myself feeling rather indifferent.

In over-analysing, you can in fact miss what is staring you in the face. Whilst I appreciate that this is what Bonfiglio is at pains to point out, he should perhaps listen to his own advice.

Running to 15th June

Reviewer: Rachel Sheridan