The chaos of sibling rivalry is movingly explored in this STC production at the Sydney Opera House Drama Theatre.
Mosquitoes Review – Theatre in Sydney
From the opening minutes of Mosquitoes, the Sydney Theatre Company audience was laughing. Actors Mandy McElhinney and Jacqueline Mckenzie playing middle-aged sisters whose lives could not be more different provided a large helping of comic fodder and probably plenty of familiar territory for those of us watching with siblings.
McElhinney, with the meatier part of ‘dumb’ sister Jenny who sells medical insurance over the phone and whose marriage is in tatters, has come to stay with ‘clever’ sister Alice in Geneva, where she is a scientist working on the Large Hadron Collider. Don’t worry if you don’t know what this is – the playwright herself, commissioned to write a play about science, didn’t really either to start with, and realised that her “own ignorance about science was the very thing that interested her most”.
Consequently, Mosquitoes takes place in a scientific setting but is really about relationships, family, love, sex, power, death and ambition.
McElhinney is brilliant in her intellectual ignorance – so thick you could shake her – and in one gripping scene, her exasperated elderly mother (Annie Byron) does in fact spank her bare bottom in frustration. McKenzie has less to work with but does a solid job as the physicist attempting to discover the Higgs Bosun Particle while simultaneously trying ‘be there’ for her tortured teenage son Luke (a credible Charles Wu) in the absence of his long-departed father, handle a new relationship with boyfriend Henri (Louis Seguier) and manage her difficult mother and exasperating, grieving sister who have both landed on her doorstep.
The very simple sets mean there is little to distract the eye beyond the relationship dramas being played out and for the most part, these are compelling.
In the real-life Large Hadron Collider, which sits 100m below ground in Switzerland, two beams of particles are sent to travel in opposite directions and collide, informing scientist about the laws of nature and the universe. The parallel metaphor of the divergent sisters’ two worlds colliding and causing all sorts of catastrophic fall-outs in Mosquitoes means this is a play sure to engross.
By Lucy Kirkwood
Sydney Opera House
Now playing until 18 May