Rumpus Theatre hosts Clock For No Time, a production as innovative as it is accessible. (Image source: Saige Prime)

By Helen Karakulak | @helen_karakulak

Clock For No Time is based on the personal experiences of playwright and director, Michèle Saint-Yves, who lives with an acquired brain injury. Her father passed two years ago from Alzheimer’s, and these experiences have combined to produce a complex but moving existential depiction of father-daughter relationships.

Saint-Yves’ experiences inspired her to make the play as accessible to as many people as possible, which is clearly embedded from the get-go. Access Assistants Kathryn Adams and Caitlin Ellen Moore welcome theatregoers with a cheerful disposition and make it known from your time in the foyer that they will do what they can to ensure everyone is able to enjoy the show.

This includes having a box of clean Stim Toys available for use, a 3D Textural Set Model, and a variety of QR Codes to hear an audio recording of a guided tour of the textural set model, and a recording of the print program. All shows feature a combination of captioning, available on two monitors throughout the performance, as well as projected recordings of Auslan interpreter Caroline Conlon.

Pictured: Jo Stone as Simone, facing and surrounded by projections of brain scans in Clock For No Time (Image source: Saige Prime)

Saint-Yves narrates in parts via voiceover, in a calm, quiet tone. She makes medical jargon and the concept of existentialism that’s ingrained throughout the production sound like a soothing lecture.

Jo Stone is captivating as Simone, the protagonist who shares how her acquired brain injury affects her and, comparatively, how her father’s dementia affects him. The play opens as she arrives for a scan to check the progress of her tumour. In the MRI, she envisions the role of her brain and her understandings of the universe. Stone’s vast and emotive descriptions are paired wonderfully with projections that turn the backdrop of the stage into immense, cosmic scenes.

AV/Digital and Technical Design by Mark Oakley is well-utilised throughout, incorporating literal visuals that also serve a symbolic purpose. From brain scans to galaxies, the projected scenescapes create a captivating yet serene depiction of the themes of existentialism Simone grapples with.

Pictured: Paul Reichstein as Ian, knelt down onstage in Clock For No Time (Image source: Saige Prime)

Paul Reichstein plays Simone’s father, Ian, who’s memory goes, but his longing for routine and curiosity for the weather remains. Reichstein does well to bring high energy to flashback scenes where Simone recalls her dad explaining why swimming is purposeful, and impressively recites a Latin prayer in a more vulnerable moment.

Jennifer Liston has multiple roles, initially playing a medical technician, but is most dynamic as Margaret, Ian’s wife and Simone’s mother. Liston has delightful vocals, singing both to open and close the show. In her closing song, ‘Loch Lomond’, Liston is at her most vulnerable and compelling. With tears in her eyes, the character of the caring mother and wife is given a moment to showcase her role within in the play’s central relationships, and the grief that comes with that love and loss.

Clock For No Time is an insightful representation of disability, as genres of creative non-fiction and memoir entangle on stage. Occasional movement through the audience by the main cast makes the performance feel intimate. With nods to the climate emergency and COVID-19 pandemic, it contextualises the perception of disability as well as presenting a personal perspective. The tone of the production is consistent throughout but as is often the case with dialogue addressing existentialism it’s a tone that requires particular concentration to follow. With an expressive cast and passionate source material, this production is surely unique and impressive.

Clock For No Time has remaining shows at Rumpus from October 27-30, with a fully Auslan Interpreted show on October 31.