Experiments in science and time
The final production for the 2007 season of the University of Adelaide Theatre Guild promises to be its most fascinating play of the year.
An Experiment with an Air Pump by British playwright Shelagh Stephenson is a highly intelligent, engaging and witty exploration of science, ethics, family and the role of women over the ages.
Set in the same house over two time periods - 1799 and 1999 - An Experiment with an Air Pump plays with the audience's expectations as easily as it mixes the shifts between time.
Stephenson's award-winning work was inspired by the 1768 painting by Joseph Wright of Derby, An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, which depicted a scientific subject as though it were a scene of historical or religious significance.
In its first known production in Australia, An Experiment with an Air Pump is directed by Geoff Brittain, designed by Ole Wiebkin, and stars Ben Brooker, Cheryl Douglas, Amy Hutchinson, Chris Leech, Aldo Longobardi, Sharon Malujlo and Alison Sharber, who play dual roles across the two time periods.
"There's a link between 1999 and 1799, not just in the science or in the depiction of women's roles, but also in the plot. The different time periods come together very well and are equally fascinating to watch," said assistant director Bill Ramsay.
An important part of the blending of these two time periods is the use of music and sound effects, being created by Music Technology student Maria Fava. Ms Fava, from Italy, recently moved to Adelaide after spending two years studying at Toulouse in France, and is currently based in the University of Adelaide's Electronic Music Unit.
She said Beethoven's famous Sonata played a central role in the music for the production.
"It is played in a classical way for one time period, and for the other time period it is remixed with other elements, including a female voice," Ms Fava said. "This gives a match between the two eras, and also is a match of technology, science and humanity. So in the music itself there is a mirror of the concept of the show."
An Experiment with an Air Pump will play at the Little Theatre (University of Adelaide Cloisters, off Victoria Drive) at 7.30pm on 13 October, 16-20 October and 23-27 October.
Tickets are $25/$20 concession and $15 for current University of Adelaide students and staff for Tuesdays only, available from the Theatre Guild on (08) 8303 5999, online at www.adelaide.edu.au/theatreguild or from BASS on 131 246.