Banner Image: Marigold Pazar (Left), Charlotte de Wit (right)
Bakehouse Theatre Company has been at its heart a tremendous support of indie theatre and up-and-comers. To launch their 2024 season at KXT on Broadway, they have invited HER production’s LOW LEVEL PANIC by Clare McIntyre.
The play begins in the confines of a share house bathroom (although this bathroom is very generous in proportion, the space is credible). KXT is set as a traverse with two halves of the audience looking across the stage and makes for an enhanced fly-on-the-wall experience. So well suited to this play and this production.
Immediately such closeness of location allows the reveal of another layer of intimacy – the sisterhood. The women share, say and reveal to each other their own desires as well as their commentary on male desire. Setting the play closer to its first production date of 1988, brings to the fore a world without mobile phones, social media or OnlyFans.
Jo (played by Charlotte de Wit) is the funny story teller, dispassionate and what the 80s and 90s called “desperate and dateless”. We find her in the old fashioned claw-footed bathtub, narrating a fantasy hook-up, Mary (played by Marigold Pazar) appears from the first anxious and underwhelmed by all that Jo shares. It becomes clear Mary wants to be safe, but she is moody and secretive.
Between Jo and Mary is flatmate number three, Celia (Played by Megan Kennedy), who is territorial and fastidious in her bathroom routine, Celia is the dominant and contained, organised and house proud. She may be the only hope of ‘regulation’ for the other two flatmates. She also has an important role as the clown, who provides comic relief and is able to improvise and manage the live aspect of the performance.
The excitement around getting ready for a party and dancing is threatened and undermined by the low level panic of Mary. Mary’s powerful survivor story becomes the focus for the second half of the play. These solo scenes with Mary are powerfully directed by Maike Strichow. Mary’s dissociation and avoidance is a response to her reliving a traumatic experience. Mary’s story will more than touch your heart and invite further reflection on how women can feel safe, now, then and into the future.
Set and written some 10 years after the first modern presentation of the “Reclaim The Night” women’s marches in the UK, USA and Australia, the chant of marches past nonetheless came back to me in response to Mary’s quandary. ‘Yes means yes, No means no, however we dress, wherever we go.’
Tonight’s audience responded very well to this play as ‘season opening’ for 2024Bakehouse.
Produced by HER Productions from Newcastle, the small, female-founded company, led by producers Marigold Pazar, co-founder and co-artistic director, and co-artistic director Charlotte De Wit. Both performing in this play and joined on stage by Megan Kennedy.
Well done HER Productions Newcastle, in your Sydney Debut and to Bakehouse for supporting such work. LOW LEVEL PANIC is a terrific piece of important theatre still relevant today. It’s a short season playing until 17 February, Tues – Sat 7.30pm and Sunday 5pm. Running at 75mins no interval until 17th February at KXT Broadway on Broadway.
Low Level Panic by Clare McIntyre
Presented by HER Productions
07 –17 February
Lighting Design Lyndon Buckley Stage Manager Kirby Hocking Produced by Her Productions
Run time: 70 mins no interval
Content Information: Nudity, Strong Language, Adult Themes, Reference to sexual assault
Production Photography: Georgia Jane Griffiths
Reviewed by Elizabeth Surbey