22 - 31 March, The Butter Factory Theatre, Wodonga.
Starring: Jolene Abderson, Eugene Gilfedder, Jason Klarwein, Hugh Parker, Lucas Stibbard
Written by Marcel Dorney
Directed by Jon Halpin
In a time when science and maths threatened the very concept of God and religion, Hypatia (Abderson), protector of the Library of Alexandria, is faced with a decision that changes the path of humanity. The Library of Alexandria is under attack by revolutionary Christians and the only way to save its years of history and knowledge is to take fractions of the 1500 scrolls in the Library. With all support lost, Hypatia can only rely on five people to transport all of the fractions (or "seeds") of the Library.
Hypatia gave her life to the Library, devoted her days and nights to protecting and extending the knowledge of the scrolls, until one night 1500 years ago when the Library vanished from history and Hypatia’s life was ended.
Playwright Marcel Dorney endeavours to tell Hypatia's story and uncover what drove a woman like her into giving her life for a library. Hypatia has previously been depicted as a "martyr to science", but Dorney explores how Hypatia's own imagination - not to mention her arrogance, hypocrisy, and a conservative (even reactionary) attitude - might have created her tragic role in history.
Jolene Anderson made the leap from her usual role in television shows such as All Saints to one of theatre’s greatest female roles. She fulfilled every expectation I had and gave the old legend a modern and feisty female edge.
Just imagine how different the world would be now if we had access to all the knowledge that was contained in the Library of Alexandria. The technology that we could have developed so much earlier and perhaps the questions posed by philosophical thinkers such as Hypatia could have also changed religion and the way in which we perceive God. The play explores such thoughts as Hypatia faces people who were at the time seen as ethical and moral Christians, but who later cause her violent death.
Fractions is a co-production between HotHouse Theatre and Queensland Theatre Company. The script won the 2010-11 Queensland Premier’s Drama Award and was developed with the assistance of Playwriting Australia, Playlab, A State of Writing, the Queensland State Government and Griffith University before premiering in Brisbane in 2011.
Fractions was also the very first play that Jon Halpin, Artistic Director of HotHouse, has been involved with from the very beginning to the final product. He says that the play "is a gift for actors and directors. It’s frustratingly rare that a script with such intellectual scope is combined with such clarity, humour and accessibility". For Halpin it was a play that he could not wait to direct after first being approached by Dorney in 2007, and he is glad to have contributed to the final performance.
Perhaps the only criticism I have is that the play went for almost three hours. It can be seen as both a positive and a negative that the play left the audience utterly exhausted. However, by the time of the final monologue, as much as I was sitting on the edge of my seat, all of the philosophical reasoning went straight over my head.
With its impeccable cast, director, and writer, it is clear why Fractions won the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award.
4 out of 5.
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