Wave of emotions

• Joe Haworth, Elise Douwes and Henry Freeman Dick star in the play In Sight of the Sea.

A PLAY 13 years in the  making is about to make its big splash at Harbour Theatre.

In Sight of the Sea was originally written in 2009 by Fremantle playwright and director Lis Hoffmann after being commissioned by the late deputy general manager of His Majesty’s Theatre, Belinda Dunbar.

She put the manuscript aside, but last year a shortened version was performed by the WA Academy of Performing Arts.

Hoffmann’s occasional collaborator Phil Jeng Kane was with her at the performance and they decided it was time to give the play a rework and add an additional character.

“We had a similar sense of story,” Hoffmann says of the collaboration, adding that Kane also has a great comic touch.

Hoffmann said she was glad to be reminded of the script’s potential.

“It’s wonderful to see it go up at last,” she said.

“After the WA Academy of Performing Arts students did a truncated version of the play in their 2021 showcase, Phil and I wanted to do another draft and add another character and layer to the story.

“We both have a background in story and script development for film – I worked for Screenwest and Phil worked for the Film and Television Institute in Fremantle around the same time, so we bring a similar story sense to the writing. 

“Phil and I aim to be moving and funny in this play but, at the same time, it also deals with an incident of self-harm, which is definitely a fine line to tread.” 

The play is about good mates Adam and Tobey, who are thrown together as flatmates in a beachside apartment in Cottesloe after one is involved in a car accident.

It explores their relationships and the many changes that come with life; those that sometimes need to be made, and those that are thrust upon us.

Adam (Henry Freeman Dick) doesn’t take life seriously and just “goes with the flow”, while Tobey (Joe Haworth) is the opposite. 

Adam’s key phrase is “riding the wave” while Tobey finds it easier to hold people at a distance.

Hoffmann said In Sight of the Sea was also driven by the unconscious feelings of the characters, which are unresolved in their lives.

She said one of the ways that’s achieved in the play is using the sea to represent the unconsciousness; feelings are deep and sometimes can rise like a tsunami when they’ve been ignored.

“I love the power and the beauty of it,” she said of the ocean. 

“I also love the concept of the sea as the waters of the human unconscious that can rise up and overwhelm everything.” 

Initially Harbour had trouble casting someone who could capture the complexity of Adam’s ex-girlfriend Sam, prompting actress Elise Douwes to fly back to Perth during the Victorian College of the Arts’ semester break. 

Douwes’ character is driven by the thought that there is something she doesn’t really understand about her relationship with her ex.

Hoffmann, who is also director, said the set was simple and suited the play, while singling out lighting director Jasmine Lifford’s ability to support the play’s themes with her lighting effects.

Hoffmann has a deep background in Perth’s theatre scene, having written, performed and directed for a host of companies as well as working on short films, documentaries and children’s television.

Last year she won a prize for best script at the Short + Sweet theatre festival for her play Crushed. 

In Sight of the Sea
Camelot Theatre, Mosman Park
July 16, 20, 22, 23, 27, 29, 30 at 7.30pm. July 17, 24, 31 at 2pm
Tix at http://www.TAZTix.com.au

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