University of Adelaide Theatre Guild
The Little Theatre
Until 13 Jul 2019

Review by Helen Karakulak

The University of Adelaide Theatre Guild’s “Through a Glass Darkly” was a well-paced, energetic performance exploring strained relationships and the lengths we go to in the search for purpose.

Specifically, it presents how this search for purpose is preyed upon by the protagonist, Karin’s, mental illness, tempting her into episodes that concern her family. Each family member portrayed offers a layer of complexity and self-interest that reflects the anxieties present in Karin’s life from which she is urged to escape.

Riordan Miller-Frost offers a youthful portrayal of Karin’s brother, Max, bursting with juvenile enthusiasm, finding a balance between eager-to-please and a misunderstood teenage demeanour. This youthful performance assists audience’s understanding of Karin, played by Abaigh Curry, and the adolescent comfort she reminisces for through her brother. Miller-Frost’s contrasting characterisation brings a charming authenticity to the performance through his ability to propel the plot from innocent to intense. This is done by utilising elements of childlike physicality juxtaposed with direct, mature dialogue.

Karin’s Father, David, played by Cats Seifert, is crucial to driving the plot forwards while using his past as a frame of reference, presenting Karin’s case of Schizophrenia as potentially hereditary. David’s unreliable nature was evident in Seifert’s erratic physicality and stagnant delivery of dialogue when in discussion with his children.

Robert Baulderstone, playing Karin’s husband Martin, well-portrayed the characters superiority complex and determination through an unfalteringly assertive tone, domineering in conversation with David, and condescending towards Karin. Despite being dedicated to caring for his wife, Baulderstone missed the mark in effectively portraying affection towards Karin in moments that would have welcomed it. However, his lack of chemistry with Curry felt appropriate to present the strain on their relationship as husband and wife due to Karin’s illness.

Curry shined as Karin, with well-timed delivery of shifting dialogue during the representation of Karin’s episodes. Curry successfully portrayed two sides of the protagonist with equal dedication and finesse. At times being energetic and playful, expressing Karin’s feeling of inclusion and helpfulness, and the other being more troubling and vacant.

Curry’s talented vacant facial expression is highlighted by a spotlight during seamless changes to the versatile set. Lighting, designed by Scott Cleggett, paired with simplistic costume design by Lani Gerbi, beautifully presents Karin’s decline in an intense moment. Curry stands in a white dress, against a projection of torn yellow wallpaper, with the projection seeping through her dress, blending her into the projection, with only her conflicted facial expression unobstructed as she delivers her hesitation to give into the voices that urge her to slip further away. Sound, by Beatrice Blackwell, is well-utilised to create an atmosphere of unease as layers of voices whisper, giving audiences further insight into Karin’s confliction.

Written by Ingmar Bergman, “Through A Glass Darkly” presents a difficult concept to address, layered with dialogue that has potential to frustrate and drag. Rather, this student production delights.