Plunge is innovative theatre at its best. What an extraordinary experience to be able to be a part of a production where you follow the actors across various locations of The Gold Coast Aquatic Centre, soon to be centre pieced for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The audience are provided with headphones where a mixture of dialogue, music and ambient sounds heighten the experience of this thought provoking production. Just as impressive is the combination of visual images displayed on walls and across the water and the diving exhibition.
The story takes us on a journey of the lives of elite aquatic athletes and the incredible sacrifices they make to represent their country in the Olympic and Commonwealth Games. Although we follow the story of three athletes at various stages of their careers, there were multiple voiceovers of athletes sharing their experience. It gave an exceptional insight into the hard work and dedication behind their journey to compete for a place in the Olympics and the ultimate prize of a gold medal.
Regardless of whether you have experienced the lifestyle of such rigorous training, there was something in each athletes story that we could all relate to in one way or another. The fear of failure; the self-doubt of ones abilities; the desire for approval and acceptance; the desire to succeed; the fear of the consequences of not getting it right and the psychological block of having to try again.
We got a glimpse of a parent’s point of view as well. I sympathised with the overzealous father, living his dream through his daughter and the loss of identity and self-purpose when his teenage daughter meets a boy on the training team and doesn’t want her father coming to every training session, something he’s been doing since she was eight-years-old. Eight training sessions a week; six days a week, with the alarm going off at 4.30am every morning, until it became an internal alarm. Imagine the sense of loss when it all stops. We get an insight to the pressures faced by the athletes to win in order to get sponsorships and how easily it can all get taken away from them.
The only point of confusion I found was the echoing of dialogue that was coming through our headsets. I found it distracting as I wasn’t sure whether it was a technical issue. It sounded as if the actors were being prompted with their lines and I found myself losing concentration as to what was being said.
There were quiet, symbolic moments which were open to interpretation according to each individual’s personal thoughts and understanding. These moments, I felt, makes Plunge a very personal play that is thought provoking and intimate. It was easy to become mesmerised with the ghostly images of swimmers illuminated across the water, or against a wall, swimming in slow motion as the actors swirled through the pool in a trance-like state immersed in their own private thoughts as they went through the of rigors of training.
The very talented writer and director, Kate Shearer, is to be commended on a production that incorporates a visual, audio and sensory experience. It was extremely well thought out and creative in its delivery. We were so well engaged that the eighty minutes flew past. I particularly enjoyed moving about the venue escorted by swimmers in track suits and swimming caps dancing about in liquid movements, leading the way for us. What a special treat. Plunge is presented by Seeing Place Productions and supported by Bleached Arts.
Jacquelin attended the show on Thursday 31st August 2017