Yael Gezentsvey @ Nexus Gallery
8:00pm, Mon 7 Mar 2011
Remember, about a decade ago, when every second solo theatrical performance seemed to be based on the premise that the actor would show us their chops by portraying a plethora of characters? The Entire Contents of the Refrigerator? Virtual Solitaire? Good times.
Nuclear Family resurrects that Fringe-favourite trait, but casts it in a much more personal light. Yael Gezentsvey plays eleven connected Jewish immigrant characters in New Zealand; sure, they appreciate the freedoms of their new country, but – with large chunks of their families back in the Soviet Union and Venezuela – there’s still a pining for their homelands.
There’s an element of soap-operatics about the interactions of the characters in Nuclear Family, with the blossoming and fragility of relationships being central threads; but there’s a fair bit of sensitivity in the script, too, with the strength in the rituals of family and religion playing a significant part.
I got the feeling that this was an almost autobiographical script, which would explain the believable characters and
diamonologue. Yael Gezentsvey plays all eleven characters – all eleven accents, all eleven mannerisms – with complete confidence, painting convincing pictures of them all in the audience’s mind. Sure, with the speed at which Desiree Gezentsvey’s (Yael’s mum!) script moves, it can be tricky to pick up all the characters (and their relationships!) at first… but by halfway through the performance they’re all familiar enough that the act of Yael stooping just a little takes you into Babushka’s home.
In all, Nuclear Family is a great little script performed admirably. And, better still, it takes the multi-character performance trope and makes it personal.