Review by Jeff Hockley


IO Performance

IO Performance has once again delivered the ‘wow’ factor in presenting Steve Yockey’s eerie play full of characters drawn from Japanese folklore and mythology.
Very Still and Hard to See, doesn’t really require background reading before seeing it and the scenes as presented are not that difficult to follow, but director Caitlin McCarthy supplies a comprehensive program intro anyway, which delves much deeper into the play and the supernatural themes within it.
She delves very deeply into the characters in the play as well and therein lies the key to the success of the performance.
The casting is excellent, which is just as well since there are a lot of demands on the actors. It was so good to see committed acting for a change, with strong characterisations from all the cast, who play multiple roles throughout. The ensemble work was especially pleasing, and it was so nice to hear some daring voice work at a heightened level. There’s a lot of physical theatre technique in the story-telling, and all the cast seem to revel in the rawness of their eerie, comic or heartbreaking moments.
McCarthy has used ‘spider’ as a metaphor, cleverly realized in the web-like structure of the set, masterfully lit as always by Chris Jackson. The costume design by Grace Roberts supports the vision very well by using a tangled collection of detritus to clothe the actors in recognisable but neutral shapes, perfect for the absurd nature of the play.
I am not a great fan of background music during plays, a cross-over from television which has been creeping insidiously into theatre of late. However the sound design for this show adds much to the audience’s experience, and the effect of the perfectly chosen soundscape is sometimes quite terrifying.
The play is a reminder that sometimes bad things do happen for a reason. Good things, like this play, happen because IO are committed to making them happen.

Jeff Hockley