Printable CopyVALE
The State Theatre Company of South Australia
Dunstan Playhouse
Until 03 Dec 2017

Review by Kylie Pedler

What is enough wealth?
When will it end - depression and oppression?
Vale is a rollercoaster of unanswered questions and hints that lead to a deeply entwined family labyrinth.

Hilary Kleinig’s music is haunting and Mark Thompson’s set is lavish and stunning. From the moment the curtain rises to breath-taking sighs of ‘oh wow!’ the scene is set: a beautiful exterior surrounding a family in crisis, deep with secrets and generations in conflict.

Nicki Bloom’s play is plot rich, funny and dark: a meddle of historical and societal conditions in conflict and director Geordie Brookman, has gathered an ensemble of talented performers to portray it with justice.

As Joseph Vale, self-made head of a hotel empire, Mark Saturno is flawless. In all his self-important arrogance, this middle-aged man has worked his way to the top through greed and belittling tactics. Saturno’s portrayal is cringingly good, from volcanic explosions to sinister accusations. Tina, played by Elena Carapetis, is void of personality but wallowing in raw emotion as the oppressed wife. The way she fusses over a porcelain doll is disturbing.

As they await the arrival of their lawyer-graduate daughter Isla (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) and her ambitious boyfriend Angus (James Smith) and are set to toast New Year’s Eve and Vale’s achievements, Saturno and Carapetis step around each other. This is a social status where appearance is everything. The tension is explosive and fireworks are a certainty this New Year’s Eve.

The connection between star-crossed lovers, Isla and Angus is refreshing as they enter the cold distant atmosphere of the penthouse. But their story has a modern twist that involves unknown identity and incest. Cobham-Hervey is joyous as the rebellious Isla. Smith brings the much needed comedic element to this dark drama. An impressive performance by both.

As an unexpected guest, Angus’ mother Diana (Emma Jackson), brings another twist to the plot; a piece of the missing puzzle. Jackson bursts onto the set, fun loving spirit and family tradition in toe. Another outstanding performance.

Emotionally draining and thought provoking, this is a must-see stellar production.

Warning: It’s an amazing piece of theatre both in writing and performance but the ‘F’ word is used constantly, and the final group of twists are horrific and shocking.