State Theatre Company Review: Cathedral

Photo credit: Matt Byrne

When: Until 21st May
Where: Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
How much: $39-$80, purchase tickets here

State Theatre Company brings the expansive and atmospheric Cathedral to Space Theatre this May. Stalwart of the company, Nathan O’Keefe portrays vagrant Clay, a Limestone Coast boy who spent his childhood learning how to dive with his grandfather. When tragedy strikes, Clay flees his hometown, only to find that he cannot escape his grief despite the depths to which he travels.

Cathedral is commendable for its sheer breadth of narrative, taking the audience from the unchartered sinkholes of a coastal town three hours from Adelaide, all the way to Aberdeen in the world of commercial diving.

The action was gripping, with the incredible set design of a jetty playing an integral role in developing this, with lighting within the structure depicting the sunny shores of Thailand, the innards of an underwater hold in Scotland, and hypoxemia-induced delusions. With the addition of smoke emitting from the jetty boards, the stage transformed into the murky depths of the underwater phenomenon Cathedral, part of the Piccaninnie Ponds in the Limestone Coast.

Another aspect of the play that was touching was the development of Clay’s relationship with his grandfather. From practising holding their breath in the local pool, to the first forays into bodysurfing with his most fatherly figure in his life, there became a shift in the relationship during Clay’s coming of age as he started to drift away. They also developed the story of the grandfathers experience with diving really well, rounding out their relationship arch.

This one-man portrayal of a life cultivated in the depth, effectively conveys the panic and claustrophobia of diving, as well as aspects that are euphoric, peaceful, and restorative. Cathedral is an incredible local story, a gem of theatre to tide over theatre fiends between this gap in the Adelaide festival calendar!

4 out of 5 stars.

Milly Farmer

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