The Case of Katherine Mansfield

12 Sep

Often, when actors claim something is truthful, you hear this quite disconcerting sound. If you were to try to describe it, I guess you’d call it a ‘rolling’.

It’s my eyes, rolling back into my head.

Ok, it’s not just actors. We all suffer from this temptation: the desire to express undeserved certitude.

When we declare something to be the Truth, often we’re simply attempting to ensure that things are viewed in a particular way. Our declarations of Truth are political actions, shaping perceptions of the world, and so the world itself, to our advantage.

Perhaps this is an overly dark vision of humanity. In it, the opposite of Truth is not falsity, but honesty.

Honesty is an openness to doubt and to less than pleasant truths about ourselves. It’s a commitment to further enquiry and to representations of reality that aren’t merely self serving.

Honesty is a virtue. Its twin sister is courage.

Katherine Mansfield was an unflinchingly honest writer. She was also a courageous writer. To observe, and acknowledge, the injustices we commit and the suffering we endure is not just a skill. It’s a moral act.

The Case of Katherine Mansfield by Cathy Downes is compiled from Katherine’s writings. A mixture of published and unpublished words, the piece is incredibly moving.

If there was a challenge to presenting text that wasn’t initially written for the stage, Downes and director Ashley Hawkes have more than successfully overcome it.

In this production Katherine is played by Rosanna Easton. Katherine Mansfield is extraordinary. Rosanna Easton is extraordinary.

I cried. I nearly sobbed.

(It’s been a long while since I’ve sobbed at the theatre. And that time my mother relented and bought me another choc top.)

To be affected by this piece you don’t need to have read any Katherine Mansfield beforehand. But you’ll want to read some afterwards.

Honesty comes from making close observation, of others and of yourself. It’s an acknowledgement that little things can matter. It’s an appreciation of the value, and rarity, of small kindnesses. It’s an acceptance that, sometimes, the divine is in the detail.

Veronica Kaye

The Case of Katherine Mansfield

13, 14, 15 Sept

Mr Falcon’s 92 Glebe Point Road

http://2012.sydneyfringe.com/event/theatre/case-katherine-mansfield-cathy-downes

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One Response to “The Case of Katherine Mansfield”

  1. Birdie in Beijing September 23, 2012 at 2:44 am #

    Ahh, yes. That’s what it is about Katherine Mansfield. I feel, after reading her work, a little hateful of the way I act. Her words make me want to be better.

    Thanks for these beautiful, beautiful reviews.

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