Mosquitoes is not a particularly alluring title for Australians but it is the title of the latest play by Lucy Kirkwood to be presented by the Sydney Theatre Company. The insects probably come in somewhere but it is essentially about the rivalry between two sisters set against a backdrop of scientific research. Lucy Kirkwood’s work is much admired through productions of Chimerica in 2017 and The Children in 2018. Yet again, big issues abound.
One sister, Alice based in Geneva, leads a team of physicists at the Large Hadron Collider searching for the Higgs Boson. The other sister, Jenny is at home in Luton selling medical insurance. Jenny also looks after their mother, formerly also a brilliant scientist but now succumbing to dementia. A strong cast is led by Jacqueline McKenzie as the physicist, Alice; Mandy McElhinney her sister Jenny; Annie Byron their mother.
Big issue plays can make the characters mere mouthpieces for competing ideas (think of some George Bernard Shaw) but Lucy Kirkwood has demonstrated an ability (like GBS) to make the exposition of those ideas both witty and moving. There are various sub-plots: Alice has a brilliant but troubled son; marriages haven’t worked. The sisters display different and unexpected competencies; the troubled son poses a range of challenges and there’s a surprise character called the Boson. Jess Arthur has the job of directing all this in the Drama Theatre (8 April-18 May). Mosquitoes has no shortage of ideas buzzing about.
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