Set in New York during and after the Second World War and inspired by the life of French philosopher and activist Simone Weil, Life is Impossible sees young Australian Elaine completely beguiled by life in the Big Apple, thanks to her work with the United Nations. She is rooming with a mysterious French woman who yearns to leave New York for Britain. 

The Australian and French women are like chalk and cheese, Elaine has a passion for passion, and lives in hope that her life will turn into a Broadway musical. Simone on the other hand lives simply and simply wishes to be dropped into France so she can help the Resistance in their efforts. These two characters are joined by Tom, a  military man and Michael, an English diplomat Simone appeals to for safe passage to the UK.   

Set design features a background with the New York city skyline and stacks of Simone’s books. The books take a thrashing during the course of the play, frequently being knocked over but are integral to Simone’s inner world. She rarely eats so the books nourish her in a way that mere food cannot.  

Each of the characters bring a unique perspective to the story. They all have a very different take on the war and the future, but none is so different than Simone, who wishes for more engagement with the process of war and ultimately pays dearly for her empathy. Just as the characters brought unique perspective, so too did the respective actors, performances were solid and approached with verve. 

The play is paced well and doesn’t get too bogged down with rhetoric: just when Gilchrist’s ruminative writing threatens to take over, the mood is lightened with song that brings not only energy but a lightness to the proceedings.

Clever and fun dialogue point out the absurdity of life: military intelligence is observed as one of the greatest oxymorons. Highlights? For me nothing can detract from the great performance by Cormac Costello as a dancing, tea drinking Englishman who keeps a stiff upper lip and a limber set of pins. 

Life is Impossible is on at the Old 505 until 23 Feb, more more information and tickets see: https://old505theatre.com/shows/life-is-impossible-1575953395.html

Director – Paul Gilchrist

Featuring – Matt Abotomey, Cormack Costello, Elle Harris and Chloë Schwank.

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ArtsLab is Shopfront’s annual emerging artist program which provides 6-month residency space, an industry mentor and season to showcase new works. In 2019 we supported 6 emerging artists to create 5 new works. The season includes 3 theatre works, an installation and a video artwork.