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Powerless

Alice Kahrmann
Auroralight Theatre Company
Baron's Court Theatre
(2005)

Powerless publicity image

The Barons Court Theater is a small, confining, almost claustrophobic space, which makes it a fitting venue for Alice Kahrmann’s new play, Powerless. The two-act play explores the lives of seven addicts attempting to find, ‘a life beyond your wildest dreams,’ by undergoing the 12-Step programme. (The 12-Steps are a set of rules that if followed, promise to enable the characters to surrender themselves to their addictions, so as then to be able to overcome them). The common denominator is the support group they all attend, where they are encouraged by Morgan (played by Eugene Wasington) to pursue a life without dependency. Ironically, they then become dependent on the support group.

This journey towards self-discovery is illustrated through the protagonist, Nina, an aspiring poet with an unhealthy admiration for Sylvia Plath, played by the promising, but at times pushed, Jenny Harrold. The addicts, played by Travis Oliver, Alexa Asjes, Pano Masti, and Phillipa Hames, showed commitment to their parts and each other from the beginning, creating genuine unity and a tight performance in general. Supporting character Johnny, played by the extremely funny and believable Philip Leamon, had complete authority and execution over his text, creating a much-needed comic relief to the dense and powerful language. The environment created by Set Designer Lara Coen and Lighting Designer Robert Stemson was intimate, though a little cramped due to the six white transformable cubes, that were too big for the space. Director Bronwen Carr did, however, make resourceful decisions in her use of the space.

Powerless has quite a few powerful moments and addresses interesting questions on whether depression is a choice or a chemical imbalance, but on the whole it is too wordy, presenting itself as more of an internal monologue. There is not enough action in the text to create a sense of an event, which makes the performance static at times. However no-one can deny that Kahrmann is a talented young writer, and definitely a name to look out for in the next few years.

Reviewer: Lennie Varvarides