This is the thousand words a picture does not say.
Melbourne July 31 - Aug 09, Theatre Works, as part of the Selected Works ‘Flight’ festival. Bookings here.
by fleur kilpatrick
director sarah walker
actor roderick cairns
designer sarah walker
sound design tom pitts
artistic consultant rob reid
design consultant rob sowinski
dramaturgy raimondo cortese
yours the face is the story of a photograph. Or rather, it is the story of the story that the photograph will not tell.
An Australian fashion photographer and an American model meet in London to create a single perfect image, but behind the pixels lies a world of obsession, exploitation and emptiness.
A single actor, Roderick Cairns, plays both the nineteen-year-old Emmy and the photographer, Peter. A duet for solo voice.
Click here to read an interview with actor Roderick Cairns about the show.
Premiere performance at Tandanya Firefly, Adelaide Fringe, 2014. Toured to Perth Fringe Festival 2015.
"Fleur Kilpatrick, you wonderful weaver of madness...Wit, grit and danger are Fleur Kilpatrick’s game. One can imagine that the writer has been hoarding pain and creative fire inside a locked chest in her shed out the back, because she seemingly has an endless supply. Her characters breathe conviction as they hack their way beyond perfection into Kilpatrick’s breeding insanity.
Roderick Cairns is the lone performer of this piece, and he is brilliant. He brings an astoundingly versatile physicality to the feminine model and masculine photographer. He is unstoppably watchable, morphing with acute precision to embody the world of the play itself.
First-time director and theatre photographer Sarah Walker has tugged at the dark strands of this play with exquisite pacing and tone, and her framing of her lead’s performance is insightful. Walker’s lighting design is heavy but graceful, and is supported with finesse by Tom Pitts’ sound design.
Yours the Face is a powerful glance at the self-indulgent ugliness behind beautiful faces and glinting cameras. Kilpatrick is no new hand at foreboding and electric dialogue. Fans of the inner darkness behind the glistening eyes of the fabulous best be getting themselves to these seats."
(John Back, Time Out)
"Yours The Face is a masterful snapshot of duality. Fleur Kilpatrick’s Quiet Little Fox production is cunning and discerning...Walker and Reid’s collaboration is flawless...An astounding singular performance."
(Lyn Zelen, Theatrepeople)
"Yours the Face...offers an intense investigation of the relationship between a fashion model and a photographer. Much has been written on the objectification of female models, but Fleur Kilpatrick's clever conceit is to roll both sides of the story into the body of a single performer.
That complicates and deepens the subject and provides a superb vehicle for Roderick Cairns, whose gender-bending tour de force switches from a dreamy, Detroit-born supermodel to the Aussie bloke in charge of her latest fashion shoot.
Cairns brings a cellular discipline and authenticity to these dual incarnations, in a fearless, physically precise performance that's a real tribute to what superior character acting can do.
He benefits from Sarah Walker's direction. You can tell she's a photographer from the clarity of the stage picture, sharp sense of timing, and dramatic use of light."
(Cameron Woodhead, The Age)
"In an unexpectedly physical performance, Roderick Cairns embodies the androgyny required to flit between a male and female character. His ability to hold court and craft the distinct yet intertwined characters that he does is impressive, as is the tenuous and ephemeral link between them that he is able to create...Yours the Face balances drama and authenticity well and leaves you with that strange mixture of pleasure, self-consciousness and stinging eyes that follow the camera’s flash."
(Raphael Solarsh, ArtsHub)
"In this production Roderick Cairns is a very commanding tour de force. He is quite mesmerizing and extraordinarily convincing in both the two contrasting roles...Cairns’s characterization is beautifully interpreted and managed and very skillfully integrated into his body both physically and vocally...Yours The Face is a very strong work based on a narrative that travels, unfolds and surprises and has been extremely competently managed by some outstanding theatre practitioners."
(Suzanne Sandow, Theatre Whispers)
"It’s a fantastic performance by Roderick Cairns. He has done this piece before and seems to relish Kilpatrick’s conspicuous sensuality. Indeed, with Cairns it is the body that we notice first, not the face. He struts and shimmies; twists and turns; sticks out his chest and contorts his spine. It is almost as if he is trying to smash together the two bodies in his own. It’s a strange – somehow mutant – but nonetheless compelling exhibition."
(Andrew Fuhrmann, Crikey)
“Cairns is phenomenal… he IS Peter… he IS Emmy… The fluidity of gender, sex, consent and identity is epitomised in Cairns’ capacity to play both characters… Yours the Face is a thought provoking and intelligent work.”
(Laura Money, The Australia Times)
“Roderick Cairns is superb in this duet for one. Seamlessly switching between a young, troubled, beautiful American fashion model and a down-to-earth Aussie photographer, Cairns plays out this beautifully crafted script of a short, sharp relationship with skill and humour… don't miss it.”
(Sarah McNeill, The Post)
"Cairns’ male body acquires an androgyny defined entirely by his performance. He is not male or female, but simply a human frame, upon which the audience builds accordingly. His body is like bony Plasticine, slipping so fluidly and accurately between genders that transitions evaporate and two people seem to appear onstage. Cairns plays his characters with enormous restraint and a primed energy that winds the whole piece up until its mechanisms creak...Kilpatrick’s script delves unflinchingly into their psyches, highlighting simple detail to illuminate all corners of them...The production’s elements are almost a character themselves, crashing over Cairns with impressive texture and intensity...Yours the Face is a stunning, multi-layered work...sheer brilliance.”
(Zoe Barron, Artshub)
“It’s an impressive team, and a slick and assured production. Cairns’ performance is fluid and seamless, his mellifluous voice and angular body adapting themselves effortlessly as he switches back and forth between roles; and the same can be said of Kilpatrick’s script, an alternating present-tense monologue that evidently draws on her own experience as a model as well as her considerable skills as a wordsmith”.
(Humphrey Bower, Daily Review / Crikey)
“The glimpse of a rounded thigh, the resolute turn of a sturdy shoulder, a voice deepened or elevated according to the character he is playing... Cairns gives a brave and unexpectedly tender performance of this two-gender, one-performer play, handling the transitions so adroitly that it is a positive pleasure to watch... the tone of Fleur Kilpatrick’s probing and intelligent play is never lost, making it an altogether highly satisfying Fringe experience.”
“In a bold move playwright Fleur Kilpatrick asks one actor to portray these vastly different but intricately entwined characters. Here the actor is Roderick Cairns, who does it with ease, in the main, in a laid-back performance that builds impressively to become a small tour de force… One minute he’s striking a pose as Emmy, the next losing himself behind the camera as Peter… Kilpatrick’s crisp, rhythmic writing pops with imagery and detail.”
(Louise Nunn, Adelaide Advertiser)
“Roderick Cairns is excellent in both modes, physically lithe and emotionally brittle as the troubled Emmy, hard-edged and unaffected as the straight-talking Aussie photographer Peter. Kilpatrick milks the contrast between the outwardly genteel model and the gruff photographer to sustained and successful comic effect. One of the pleasures of this production is watching Cairns keep up with these tonal shifts which grow steadily darker as more is revealed of Emmy’s chequered past… Kilpatrick’s writing is sharp and grittily profane but often funny… [the charactersʼ] uneven, quietly obsessional relationship is lent a graspable reality by Cairns’ skillfully distinct characterisations. The inevitable breakup, when it comes, is strange and affecting… unquestionably enjoyable, its studied interiority making for an intimate and involving experience… Cairnsʼ bravura soloing… unusually well- crafted and pleasurable.”
(Ben Brooker, Marginalia)
“A beautiful piece of writing by Fleur Kilpatrick, skilfully realised by the whole creative team… intimate and intriguing… I was enveloped by the story.”
(Shona Benson, Limelight Magazine)
“A well-executed piece that both engages and challenges… filled with clever syntactic play and neatly tied-off motifs. Roderick Cairns is deft in his roles… Impressive… not merely engaging, but rewarding.”
“Into this space steps a lithe Roderick Cairns, who deftly flips between two characters: Peter, the renowned Australian photographer, and Emmy, the young (too young?) American supermodel… the portraits that Yours the Face paints of these two people is thick, rich, believable… the solo performance with two voices is an inspired decision (and possibly the most cutting – yet subtle! – comment on objectification at this year’s Fringe). And Cairns is wonderful in both roles… It’s engaging and thought-provoking theatre that managed to unsettle me in the best possible way.”
(Peter Muller, Festival Freak)