The World is Looking for You is part memory play, insofar as Sarah Brokensha fronts audiences as herself, an actress recounting her own navigation through grief. Two other stories are woven through Brokensha’s narrative by writer Finegan Kruckemeyer. One, a true story Brokensha discovered on Facebook, is of a woman who joined a search party only to discover everyone was looking for her. Another, more abstract story, is of a lost soul.
Grief is a central theme in The World is Looking for You and is explored as an emotion that adds weight, and comfort, to living. The emotion is symbolised on stage as blankets, snow and tissues, all materials that carry dual associations of pleasure and pain.
Brokensha’s reflections of grief alone are compelling. By expanding the exploration across three characters, she demonstrates a multiplicity in human existence and the universal certainty of being broken-hearted and overcome by loss. Her performance, under the direction of Daisy Brown, is nuanced and tender, and the ownership of her story generates a raw emotional quality that is achingly relatable for audiences.
Early on, various elements of the set help to distinguish between the three women. The woman who joins the search party appears on a bus seat, while the lost soul is on a raised section of the stage, surrounded by blankets. As the stories unfold, and the characters’ experiences of loss grow to inform each other, the spatial distinctions bleed together and the entire stage becomes one site for self-discovery.
The music and vocals are hauntingly beautiful. Composed by acclaimed sound engineer Mario Späte and performed on stage alongside vocalist Paige Court, the compositions offer a dreamlike eeriness that pairs with the gift and grief of memory.
The music consists of a meditative, electronic hum maintained throughout the production, often with the inclusion of drumbeats, varying in rhythm to mirror the emotional arc of the narrative. The vocals are particularly poignant as they echo subtleties that align with the script, acting like voices someone hears in their head during times of isolation.
The lighting, designed by Wendy Todd, works wonderfully to create an unnerving sense of solitude on stage. Cool blues are used for most of the play, which is set in the snow, but these are at times juxtaposed with warm yellows to establish the sensation of a few hopeful rays of sunlight on a winter’s day. Spotlights are used creatively as the characters find themselves, replicating the chaos of torchlights in a search party, distinguishing between the three women, and identifying meaningful props.
The World is Looking for You is a sensitive yet powerful reflection on being seen, heard, missing and missed. In exploring multiple markers of identification – coffee orders, internet histories, family or gender – this production reiterates the idea that infinite characters and endless stories make up a single life.
The World is Looking for You is at the Space Theatre until September 4. It is presented by Adelaide Festival Centre’s inSPACE Program & Control Party in association with Country Arts SA and Brink Productions
Michelle Wakim is the first recipient of the Helpmann Academy InReview Mentorship. She is working with experienced writers Samela Harris (theatre) and Katherine Tamiko Arguile (visual arts) to write a series of articles for publication in InReview.
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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.