Dark Heart at Paradise in Augustine’s (Venue 152), until 20 August.
Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩
This is a promising debut from a young writer, Jessica Avellino, presented by Infinity Repertory Company from New York. The story is, indeed, dark – a young girl is the central character; she is in some kind of hospital with bandaged wrists implying her attempted suicide.
We see the girl gradually building trust with her doctor and the influence this has on her changing mental state.
The opening of the show depicts the ‘voices in her head’ competing for control over her traumatised mind. In this driving song, layer upon layer is built by the young cast of eight pulling and pushing the girl’s mind in different directions. The score has a strong pop influence, reminiscent of Britney Spears. There are several very strong singers in this company and casting has been carefully considered to ensure that there is a good vocal blend.
Choreography and staging seems influenced by Glee-type ‘numbers’. Some elements of choreography could be modified to improve the storytelling; to draw the audience in in a more subtle way with more involvement and cohesion.
However, these choices contribute to making the piece accessible to the teenage audience, which Avellino states as her aim: “Being a teenager myself, I have unfortunately seen and gone through a lot of the hardships that coincide with this piece. Hopefully Dark Heart will impact people struggling through these same issues.”
A bold piece showcasing promising young talent tackling an important issue with its heart in the right place.