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Billie – Herald Sun



By Kate Herbert / April 11, 2005

Billie is an evocative and atmospheric solo performance by Michelle St. Anne. In the intimate space of La Mama, St. Anne reprises this work she created when completing post-graduate study at the School of Drama at VCA.

It has no linear narrative, but is constructed from physical and visual images and snatches of text inspired by Tim Winton’s novel, The Riders.

In a series of vignettes the actor (St. Anne), as a young woman or as a child, is dressed in turn in white singlet and underpants or a blue satin gown and red high heels. We see her in snapshots of her life. Fluid images flutter on the upstage screens. As the images and text unfold, our understanding of this woman expands. We watch as the child plays on a garden rope swing. The swing, finally, becomes the vehicle for the sexual abuse of the child. On the white screens the woman, dressed in gown and heels and carrying a birdcage, repeatedly walks along a wall as if departing over and over again. The child imitates the movements and dress of the mother, as if trying to fill the shoes of the mature woman.

St. Anne is a charming and engaging performer. She explores the fusion of image and voice.

Intrinsic to this show are a sparse sound design by Soncha Iacono and simple but dramatic lighting by Jared Lewis, as well as compelling visual imagery by Sharyn Smith and Curtis Moyes.

The story of Billie unravels slowly as we piece together the scraps of information meted out to us through images and words. It is a poignant and delightful performance by a smart writer-performer.