Zoe: Jean M Gordon examines grief and letting go. (Sydney Fringe Festival)
I’m never going to have my Zoe. How do you mourn someone who never existed?
Jean M Gordon is a young writer from Sydney who has written works for the popular Short and Sweet festival (what an important haven for young writers that festival is) as well as several short stories. Here she tackles the complex subjects of grief and moving on.
Emma is a young woman who is getting a divorce after a marriage of only a few years. Her husband left her for another woman and in a very interesting (and clever) twist where Emma can’t mourn the relationship because she rejects a philandering husband, she mourns the child the relationship never produced. Emma is likely to fall in love again, and likely to have children in the future with someone else (this is acknowledged by Emma herself) however it is the little girl named Zoe that Emma and her ex mused over that Emma is attaching her grief to.
It was like it was real as long as I let myself believe it.
As Emma goes through a dark night of the soul, she connects with her best friend and her mother, both of whom are having their own challenges around unborn children.
There are some very interesting themes brought up in this play. The idea of grief needing to be played out attached to something, even a child that was never conceived is well thought out. Another idea that grief is a very selfish experience, no matter how necessary a part of life is also a nice angle to take on the notion of loss. Gordon brings these ideas out with confidence. The play is a little rushed (a forgivable early writer mistake) and therefore these excellent ideas have to be listened for, but they are there and they have been planted by the talented writer.
Another lovely aspect of this little drama, is the visual effects. “Zoe” is the manifestation of Emma’s grief and on stage she is represented by a young girl who swirls glowing batons and other objects. These are rainbow coloured and flash delicately as they are swirled around in perpetual motion at the corner of the stage., sometimes moving higher in Emma’s consciousness, sometimes working endlessly in the background. It instantly made me think of Emma’s grief and the beauty in the everyday lived experience. It makes it a beautiful play to watch.
All in all Zoe was a pleasant little theatre experience and establishes Jean M Gordon as a writer to watch out for.
Zoe is on at the King Street Theatre at these times: