How do you keep your only child safe from the evils of the outside world? Cally’s (Gemma Scoble) mother (Romney Stanton) is intent on keeping her daughter locked up in the house with her, lest her daughter meet some no-hoper who takes advantage of her, but Cally finds her mother’s love oppressive. Cally dreams of breaking free of her mother and leaving the corn fields forever. When she meets an enigmatic stranger (Blake Wells) she sees him as a way out.
A ticking clock, one of many in her mother’s collection, adds an element of suspense. We sit waiting for an explosion of some kind, as Cally is torn between her mother and the handsome stranger. She tries to deflect her mother’s accusations of treasonous behaviour and she encourages her mother to look after herself, all the while desperate to leave.
Scarecrow is ultimately about mother and daughter trying to overcome the menace of the memory of the girl’s father. The mother has a right to be wary of men, the father of her baby didn’t stick around but her daughter doesn’t share her mistrust until it is too late for her to avoid making her mother’s mistake.
A gothic tale reminiscent of the mother/daughter relationship in Carrie, which also featured a mother intent on shielding her daughter from the world, Scarecrow has a far less dramatic ending. Good performances were only marred by a few peculiar scenes – Blake Wells as the charming Nick is almost perpetually bemused by the two women, for wont of any other emotion apparently. Choreography during the dramatic climax detracted somewhat from the intensity as Nick did a kind of solo do-si-do around the fringe of the stage, while Cally struggles with her mother’s wishes. Gemma Scoble was excellent as the young women torn between her past and her potential future and the undercurrent of fear and erotic longing that pervades keeps the drama taut throughout the play.
Presented by Dead Fly Productions, Scarecrow is on at the Blood Moon Theatre until 29 September, for more information and tickets see: https://sydneyfringe.com/buy-tickets
Directed by Deborah Jones and Naomi Livingstone
Featuring: Gemma Scoble, Romney Stanton and Blake Wells.