The Oxford Girl Theatre Project

Anywhere Theatre Festival 2012
Oxford Girl Theatre Project (Woolcock Park, Red Hill)
Duration: 50 minutes

It was more than a bloody nose; it was murder.

There is a bend on Enoggera Creek: a promontory with steep soil banks and shallow water. Tea-lights flicker on the ground. Trees stretch out their limbs and embrace the shadows around an old house on the far bank.

Bella Ambrose dressed black as night sets a sombre mood with the yearning strains of her cello. Like ghosts, the four players – white face paint, white clothes, blood-red highlights – glide to their places: in a tree, in niches on the creek bank.

Before reading and writing was a common skill, bards would deliver news by song or story. The grimmest news were murder ballads. James Halloran sings to set the scene.

The Oxford Girl is young, beautiful. The miller Johnny whispers of love until she has sex with him. One day she says, I am pregnant; marry me. Come, he says, let us walk along the river bank.

Johnny returns alone, covered in blood. This is not a nosebleed as he claims. It is bloody murder.

The Oxford Girl Theatre Project is a work in progress devised by Indigo Keanes, James Halloran, Hannah Farrelly, Xani Kennedy. It is delivered in promenade style – actors and audience are in the same space, and the audience are invited to find view-points that suit.

The creek bend at Woolcock Park, an ideal location for the tale, is used well: from wading in the creek water, to the different levels provided by near and far creek banks, and the promontory.

The script is visual (physical movement) and spoken (solo and unison).

Physical movement is slow and stylised allowing the audience time to take in each scene. Scarves – red and white – show how the Miller and his girlfriend are both bound and separate. The additional players form the Greek chorus and the lynch-mob which brings the miller to justice.

The spoken script is an ensemble piece that mixes narration and emotional commentary. Delivery is by the miller (solo) and Greek chorus. Speaking with enough volume (due to the size and openness of the space) meant diction was not always clear. James Halloran sings verses from the ballad to open and close the show.

This is a thoughtful, and very bloody, show with a style that will not be to everyone’s taste. It will be interesting to note how the show develops over time in style and delivery.

“Everything you see is what you cannot hear.” Violence should not be tolerated.

Performance seen: 11 May 2012
Review and Photo: Shirley Way

Oxford Girl Theatre Project: Indigo Keanes, James Halloran, Hannah Farrelly, Xani Kennedy
Music: Bella Ambrose (cello)
Venue: On the creek bank, Woolcock Park (Glenrosa Rd entrance), Red Hill
Posted at Anywhere Theatre Festival   http://anywherefest.com/blog/2012/05/review-the-oxford-girl/