Meet Me at Dawn

Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne


Arts Centre Melbourne
10 Feb – 16 Mar
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Grief. How to deal with it. How to cope when you have lost a beloved one. That difficult subject has been turned on its head in the MTC production of Meet Me at Dawn. British playwright Zinnie Harris has written an intriguing mystery, in which clarity is sought, but not readily provided … deliberately. Even though the truth eventually outs, it is the journey that is so worthwhile and meaningful.

Photos by Pia Johnson

Robyn (Jing-Xuan Chan) is an academic and Helen (Sheridan Harbridge) a scientist. They are lovers that live together and find themselves tending to a neighbour’s dog. They have just been embroiled in a harrowing accident. They hired a boat for a day out and it ended up overturning, leaving both to swim for their lives. They are marooned somewhere, not knowing what will become of them.

Helen is on a high, while Robyn – seemingly ever the pessimist – feels sick. Their frustrations with one another and their love language come to the fore, as they try to find a way off wherever they are and make it back home. Gradually, we – the audience – discover that not everything is as it might at first appear. There are hints that that may be so, but we can’t be sure – until we are … and then it is a case of what happens next.

In compelling performances, Jing-Xuan Chan and Sheridan Harbridge embrace the yin and yang of their respective characters with gusto. As Robyn and Helen, they both try to rationalise what occurred and how to best deal with the situation at hand. Jing-Xuan Chan brings intensity to her persona, while Harbridge tries to lighten the load.

With them comes humour and pathos, which is part of the strength of Harris’ script.  She was going through her own grief process when she wrote the work. A series of highs and lows is played out in Meet Me at Dawn, reflective of hope and despair. There are moments that are tender, touching and terrifying. Observations and revelations come, allowing us to piece together what is actually happening.

The set by Romanie Harper (who is also responsible for the costuming) is striking. A surfeit of finely ground gravel reaching to the doorway and broken windows of a derelict building sets the scene admirably. Amelia Lever-Davidson’s lighting design reflects mood changes and different times of the day. Katy Maudlin has done a fine job directing a captivating portrait of love and loss.

75 minutes without interval, Meet Me at Dawn is playing at Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne until 16th March, 2024.

Alex First

Alex First

Alex First believes all people have a story to tell, if only a good playwright can prize it out of them. Alex has a natural curiosity about the world and believes a strong narrative, or narrative with music, can open the door to subjects about which he knows little. Like his parents before him, theatre is his passion – a passion with emotional resonance, one that moves and excites him. He brings decades’ experience as an arts’ connoisseur to his role as a critic.
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