Ask Audrey Ask Audrey
View:
Archived

They Divided the Sky

"fluency, delicacy and warmth"

Audrey review: The most sophisticated of the 25A productions we've seen, They Divided the Sky has been made with exceptional care.

Text size
Text size
Add to favourites

They Divided the Sky

Date: 16 Jun 2018

Both of Belvoir’s spaces are devoted to stage adaptations of novels at the moment.

Upstairs is Bliss, based on Peter Carey’s novel. Downstairs is Daniel Schlusser’s quicksilver version of German author Christa Wolf’s They Divided the Sky.

The latter is by far the most persuasive as a work of theatre.

Published in 1963 in the former GDR, They Divided the Sky was Wolf’s break-through work, a semi-autobiographical story describing the relationship between a young woman – 19 when we meet her – and a man ten years her senior in the months surrounding the building of the Berlin Wall.

Rita (played by Nikki Shiels) is recovering from an accident in the factory where she works a summer job making window frames for train carriages.

During her morning bike-ride to work, she encounters Manfred (Stephen Phillips), a handsome chemical engineer who likes to perform his ablutions al fresco.

After going to a dance, they quickly become an item and soon move in with Manfred’s parents

It seems a promising love match but there are other forces at play.

Rita, born after WWII, is a child of the communist state and despite the toxic politics she observes, remains committed to its future.

Manfred, who grew up during the Third Reich, seems no less idealistic in his hopes for a science-guided society, but is more cynical when it comes to politics.

When the Berlin Wall splits their country into ideologically opposed halves Rita is forced to decide where her loyalties lie.

Faithful to the book’s fragmented narrative and flashback structure, Schlusser (who also directs) relates the story in tightly composed scenes capturing key moments in the relationship, which Shiels and Phillips play Rita and Manfred with fluency, delicacy and warmth around, on and eventually in the enamel bath in the centre of a reconfigured, in-the-round space.

Produced under the rules of Belvoir’s 25A program, the production’s budget is limited to a measly $1500, but what little money there is has been carefully targeted.

Mel Page’s costuming is dowdily spot-on. James Paul’s musique concrete score is near-constant and excellent. Amelia Lever-Davidson’s lighting design uses florescent and incandescent lighting to underline shifts in time, keeping us abreast of what might otherwise be a slippery narrative.

The most sophisticated of the 25A productions we’ve seen, They Divided the Sky has been made with exceptional care and the performances – tenderly drawn and perfectly scaled to this intimate space – are delightful.

Content
Assassins
Add to favourites
Archived Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point 7 Jun - 1 Jul 2018

Assassins

Audrey review: First seen at the Hayes Theatre last year, Assassins looks and sounds even better in Playhouse widescreen.

St Joan
Add to favourites
Archived Roslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay, Sydney 5 - 30 Jun 2018

St Joan

Audrey review: Imara Savage’s hard cut production gives us a St Joan for this moment and a final image that haunts.

August: Osage County
Add to favourites
Archived New Theatre, Newtown, Sydney 6 Jun - 7 Jul 2018

August: Osage County

Audrey review: New Theatre seldom shies away from plays because they’re big. And August: Osage County is plenty big in every way.

See More

More to see

View All
Bliss
Add to favourites
Archived Belvoir, Surry Hills, Sydney 9 Jun - 15 Jul 2018

Bliss

Toby Truslove is Harry Joy, a man who brings a smile to all he meets. Then, one warm afternoon on the front lawn, he dies.

Bondi Feast 2018
Add to favourites
Archived Bondi Pavilion, Bondi Beach, Sydney 17 - 28 Jul 2018

Bondi Feast 2018

The best in home-grown theatre, comedy, cabaret, circus and food, presented in the iconic Bondi Pavilion.

Dresden
Add to favourites
Archived Kings Cross Theatre, Sydney 15 - 30 Jun 2018

Dresden

Justin Fleming’s new play puts passion and power under the lens of history and our own horrifying hindsight.

Roomba Nation
Add to favourites
Archived Old 505 Theatre, Newtown, Sydney 4 - 21 Jul 2018

Roomba Nation

Hurrah Hurrah return with a team of robotic vacuum cleaners hacked to torment their human counterparts.

Top