A Grain of Sand – KXT Bakehouse & Queen Hades Productions (NSW)

An ingenious style of immersive theatre, A Grain of Sand puts the audience in the seat of judge and jury. An intriguing premise in itself, A Grain of Sand shows what new and immerging artists can do when given the opportunity and a creative space willing to experiment.

Aiden (Enoch Li) is the only suspect in the disappearance of his girlfriend, Monica (Kelly Robinson). With the creation of a new AI technology program, Aiden talks to a replica of Monica (a shadow) and goes on a journey back through his relationship and lived experiences with Monica. Little does he know, the whole conversation is being streamed directly to us. Ultimately, the ones decide the fate of Aiden, and subsequently the play’s ending, is the audience.

Director Margaret Thanos focuses on the complexity of the plot through the use of storytelling, dissecting the tough material to discuss ideas of justice, guilt, and the grandiose use of AI in an adapting modern world. Writer, Declan Cole’s script could easily be taken off the screen of a Black Mirror episode. The play’s discussion of technology in interrogation and conviction is the foundation of the experiment the team at Queen Hades Productions is putting on show here.

As experimental as they come, A Grain of Sand offers enough fresh material for audiences to chew on, whilst luring them in with engaging performances and theatricality.

Sophie Pekblimli’s lighting design casts the performers in a blue and purple hue which adds to the overall mystery that Thanos presents. Harnessing the traverse staging, Thanos keeps the action moving, whilst also allowing for moments of silence and tension to rise. Despite some pacing and believability of dialogue in places, Thanos creates something inherently unique and engaging.

Speaking directly to the audience, Susanna Pang confidently leads audiences through the complexities of the storytelling. Almost as an extension of the audience, her characterisation fits with the ominous mood of the overall atmosphere created.

Enoch Li’s Aiden shows resilience and stamina in his constantly onstage performance, and makes use of the traverse staging, highlighting Aiden’s awkwardness. Working hard to convince us of his innocence, the evidence keeps changing and Li keeps us on our toes.

Though one of the most unique performances in the production comes from Kelly Robinson as Monica’s shadow. Jumping back and forth between AI and memory, Robinson confidently harnesses voice and body to make us believe she is both memory and AI.

The play’s end is, literally, up for debate. Audiences may be left disappointed their ending did not become realised, whilst others may find it anti-climactic. What can’t be argued is that the entire question of innocence and guilt comes through this final choice in the production.

As experimental as they come, A Grain of Sand offers enough fresh material for audiences to chew on, whilst luring them in with engaging performances and theatricality. This kind of fresh originality is something to be applauded just to see what these young, independent writers can create next.

Reviewer Rating:
Given the ending is up for debate, we feel adding a rating may not accurately resonate with the final product of the performance depending on the night.

A Grain of Sand ran from the 20th to 25th January at the KXT Bakehouse Theatre. Find out more about Queen Hades Productions here.

CREATIVE TEAM
Director Margaret Thanos
Producer Natalie Low
Set & Costume Design Kaitlyn Symons
Lighting Design Sophie Pekblimli
Sound Design Akesiu Poitaha
Stage Manager Ebony Loloa
Production Photography Clare Hawley

CAST
Enoch Li, Kelly Robinson, Susanna Pang

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