Megan Wilding’s first full-length play delivers piercing, effortless emotion.
Megan Wilding in A Little Piece of Ash. Photo by Clare Hawley.
After Jedda’s mother Lily passes away and enters The Dreaming, her presence remains as strongly felt as ever. A Little Piece of Ash follows Jedda as she wrestles with her unresolved emotions towards Lily and works to hold her life together with various degrees of help from friends and acquaintances. The title is likely a reference to Lily’s ashes; gesturing to the way the play evolves into a meditation on grief.
Megan Wilding wrote, directed, and stars in A Little Piece of Ash. Taking on the roles of both writer and director can be a dangerous manoeuvre but this production doesn’t appear to suffer from the arrangement. The script, which is based on Wilding’s own experiences, was shortlisted for the 2017 Patrick White Playwright’s Award and has been presented at the Yellamundie National First Peoples Playwriting Festival. It’s Wilding’s first full-length play.
Wilding is a rare talent; every line delivered as Lily appeared to be laden with effervescent emotional truth. It’s as though it all comes naturally and effortlessly to her, but as is captured in the old adage ars est celare artem, the art is often in concealing the art.
Wilding’s monologue in which she explores The Dreaming or The Dreamtime is a thrilling spiritual and emotional experience. She uses her abundance of charm to steer the audience through some slightly unconventional theatrical devices and light audience participation.
The lighting (Jasmine Rizk) was dynamic and amusing at times, especially in a series of short scenes that may have been a glance back into Jedda’s childhood, or perhaps a dreamscape that is interrupted by her morning alarm (to the horror of the protagonists). Set design was spartan, with Ella Butler effectively transporting us between various locations with minimal fuss.
Luke Fewster as Chuck is a reassuring presence on stage, appearing very much in his element. Toby Blome (Eddie) was amusing when it was required: it was also rewarding to watch him try to find a morally commendable path in trying circumstances. Moreblessing Maturure’s performance as Mendy was detailed and heartfelt. Alex Malone (Ned) displayed the winning quality of theatrical ‘danger’ which serves actors well.
This production is funny, moving and poignant. It also offers timely insight into Wilding’s experience of life as an Aboriginal woman in contemporary Australia.
4 stars ★★★★
A Little Piece of Ash
Writer and Director: Megan Wilding
Assistant Director: Lincoln Vickery
Producers: Charlie Falkner and Andreas Lohmeyer
Designer: Ella Butler
Sound Design: Ben Pierpoint
Photography: Chandel Brandimarti
Cast: Stephanie Sommerville, Megan Wilding, Toby Blome, Moreblessing Maturure, Alex Malone and Luke Fewster
12-26 April 2019
Kings Cross Theatre, Kings Cross, Sydney
First published on