What every woman needs [by Matt Baker]
Incorporating a similar narrative construct to her hit Fringe Festival show Elevator, writer and actress Jess Sayer has brought three women together in a confined space and gradually turned up the heat. Wings follow three sisters’ literal and metaphorical journey, with Sayer cleverly making the subtlest of suggestions along the way. The result is that even the most attentive and intuitive of audience members can only go so far as to ride shotgun, with Sayer firmly in control of the wheel.
As an actress, Sayer clearly relishes the freedom that comes with her character without becoming indulgent, and is able to clearly hit the beats of capriciousness that reveal the latter’s convictions and insecurities. One might proclaim this is due to her dual role as writer, but it could easily be argued that this is due more so to the clarity of the writing on its own.
Darlene Mohekey counterbalances Sayer with the gravitas that comes with being an eldest sibling, hinting towards the motherly qualities that keep the audience pondering the true history of the women. Simea Holland is on the verge of stalling during her entrance, but kicks into gear once the physical journey begins. Holland expertly balances a sense of nonchalance with that of sororal devotion, allowing the conviction of her character to bubble up and drive her through the emotional extremities with total justification.
In fact, all three actresses, under the direction of Jordan Selwyn, work effortlessly through each of the various emotional road signs suggested in the script without forcing any emotionality. Both live and recorded music feature as spectacle elements, a staple part of any road trip, from C’est La Vie by B*Witched to a Warpaint’s Billie Holiday based medley. Stage design by Taylor Sommerville and Jess Hyunh cleverly constructs the makeshift car to incorporate the thrust stage, and Arlo Gibson’s sound design culminates to a shocking yet inevitable ending.
It’s not difficult to note the comparison between Wings and Gary Henderson’s 1996 Mo & Jess Kill Susie, however, Sayer takes complete ownership of her writing and addresses relationship dynamics that are unique to her own style. Considering the significant amount of talent that I have been privileged to witness as both a critic and a member of audition panels, New Zealand needs more plays like Wings; strong stories written by women, with strong characters for women.
Wings is presented by Junket Theatre Company and plays at The Basement Studio until 17 August. Details see The Basement.
SEE ALSO: Theatreview.org.nz review by Johnny Givins