The Antipodes

The latest play by Pulitzer Prize winning writer Annie Baker celebrates storytelling, procrastination, and the eternal struggle of writer’s block.

By Owen James

Storytelling is at the heart of theatre itself, and crafting the perfect story is a rare and revered act. In The Antipodes, a roundtable of creatives are employed to create stories for an unnamed organisation on an unclear mission that feels mysteriously greater than them.

As weeks and even months pass, these creatives agonise over finding the right idea – a spark that will resonate with audiences like no other. It’s the struggle that has plagued every writer since the beginning of time, and I’m sure we’ve all wondered before – will we ever reach a point when all the ideas have run out? I know I have, and it’s the mounting stress of this idea in The Antipodes that pushes these characters to their boiling point.

Featuring Ngaire Dawn. Photograph by Jodie Hutchinson.
Featuring Ngaire Dawn. Photograph by Jodie Hutchinson.

It’s a fascinating journey to watch them undergo, and even though the majority of the text is a relaxed spitballing of ideas and stories, the concepts that are raised are universal and often beautiful – even within the most bizarre or extreme monologues. It’s a meditative and reflective room to be in, and the choice of traverse staging is genius – the audience watches the audience, and we become intrinsically aware of how ancient yet unchanged this ritual of storytelling is.

It’s impossible to single out a single one of these performers, as every one of them so truthfully contributes to this celebration of storytelling. They bounce off each other’s energy consistently and make us bawl with laughter – there is clearly a lot of respect between these actors.

The Antipodes is mesmerising and cathartic, and will resonate with any creative fascinated by the genesis of stories and the legacy of art. It comes highly recommended – I found it frankly captivating. Any fans of films like Holy Motors, Melancholia, or The Method will also feel right at home.

The Antipodes is being performed at Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre 10 July – 12 August. Tickets can be purchased online and by calling the box office on 03 9533 8083.

Featuring Ngaire Dawn Fair, Casey Filips, Darcy Kent, Ben Prendergast, Harvey Zielinski, Jim Daly, George Lingard, Dushan Philips and Edwina Samuels. Set & Costume by Design Chloe Greaves, Sound Design & Composition by Dan Nixon, Lighting Design by Clare Springett & Bronwyn Pringle, Design Assistant Alexander Rothnie, Dialect Coach Jean Goodwin, Stage Manager Jackie Mates and Assistant Stage Manager Terri Steer.

Photographs: Jodie Hutchinson