Review: Vignettes from an Inkblot Archipelago

An emotional rollercoaster with a poignant insight into the human experience

“Clean slates exist to be filled”

Urgent words and meaningful silences cut through the Corpus playroom space, chillingly lingering amidst the audience and highlighting the character’s recognisable humanity.

Vignettes from an Inkblot Archipelago, an original piece written and directed by Charlie McGuire, is a perceptive exploration of the moments that define us – the permanent inkblots that stain the pages of one’s life story and identity. The way our society’s internalised prejudices can alter one’s life are exposed, making us consider the critical impact of art as a medium of communication. From toxic masculinity to the traumatic nature of memory, this play tackles a myriad of themes and delves into vital discussions, perhaps taking on too much at times.

A particularly intriguing aspect of this show is the exploration of how the burdensome past chips away at relationships, both romantic and familial. This heartbreaking reality was successfully brought to life by the talented cast. Most notably, Imogen Carter’s portrayal of Charli/Shauna was incredibly authentic and truthful. Her excellent encapsulation of emotional subtleties shone through, and her infectious energy brought a necessary vitality to the stage. Dylan Stewart’s emotionally trapped Alexander is a testament to the human impulse to cling on to the past, as he is wrapped in a version of reality that he himself curated. What struck me most was that the beauty and tension seeping from their dialogue lay in what was left unsaid. What was expressed in a nod, a look or a silence.

Carter’s and Stewart’s chemistry sparkled on stage, making their light-hearted banter humorous and their fighting captivating. Marta Zalicka’s portrayal of the mother was especially touching, and Joe Wright’s depiction of the bitter, abusive father stood out as his explosive energy made some heavier scenes memorably potent. Both actor’s multi rolling also brought to light the significance of inheritance and how our family tree defines an aspect of our identity.

Image credits: Alexandra Timofte

Some particularly effective production details, such as the use of the projector as well as the voiceovers, allowed for an interestingly multisensory experience. Sound and image blurred the sense of time and acted as mediums through which the past can be dangerously preserved and revealed. Charlie McGuire’s sound design was a uniquely intentional touch which tied up the plot perceptively.
Despite the impactful production details, there were some scenes that occasionally dragged on, causing some fluctuations in the actors’ energy as well as the audience’s attention. McGuire’s words, while evocative, were perhaps too poetic at times, requiring the audience’s intense concentration throughout the show. Some messy transitions and overly extensive silences also disrupted the flow of the scenes, but the overall momentum of the play successfully carried the audience through the story.

Image credits: Alexandra Timofte

This play’s triumph, however: the final plot twist. One that moved me and left me utterly shocked. A final distortion of what we were made to believe was reality, puppeteered brilliantly by McGuire’s writing in combination with Carter’s and Stewart’s emotionally charged performances. This play is a stark reminder that the ghosts of our past never really leave us, even if we think we’ve waved them goodbye. Rather, they linger like a trail of a smoky haze that impairs our vision. But I reveal no more. I recommend you go and discover all the rest for yourselves.


Vignettes on an Inkblot Archipelago is showing at the Corpus Playroom from Tuesday 30th of April – Saturday 4th of May. Buy your tickets here.

Image credits: Alexandra Timofte

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