Thursday, February 3, 2022, 7 p.m., SBW Stables Kings Cross
Part dramatic monologue, part TED Talk, Noëlle Janaczewska’s THE END OF WINTER is a moving personal story of one woman’s realization of loss on many levels as she contemplates the future of her favorite season. Interspersed with historical and scientific facts, personal memories and more recent observations, this 55-minute work is thoroughly engaging, entertaining and educational.
The premise of WINTER’S END is that the unnamed middle-aged Anglo-Saxon woman (Jane Phegan) who had emigrated to Australia from England as a child, had a long ‘cold appreciation’ of this that she prefers cold climates, cold weather and cold seasons. She recounts her observations of the gradual loss of her favorite season and environments in tandem with a more personal loss of her mother in England with thoughts she began to gather over the summer of 2019/2020 when large parts of Australia were burning in shocking heat. season. Janaczewska assures that this work is not just a political statement that more needs to be done to deal with climate change by using historical details to inspire the audience to have a similar affection for the cold as the narrator. As noted in the book, much of culture, both historical and contemporary, views cold as a negative and undesirable condition, but reinforcing the perpetual wonder that explorers and adventurers have had with climates cold weather and the beauty of snowy landscapes helps remind audiences that we need the world to have enough cold components. It builds on the popular notoriety of famous explorers like Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen who beat Scott to 90oSouth by 34 days while reinforcing the quest for the south pole which was more than just a race from Northern Europe and from Australia.
Directed by Kate Gaul, this work, presented on stage which features a plywood model of a gabled house “sinking” into the high gloss floor which reflects the light like water (Production Design: Soham Apte), is designed with an awareness of the audience as Phegan connects with the audience, while being told to an unseen listener as the story is told on the back wall, away from the corner stage audience. The model home draws parallels to the loss of family and the loss of icebergs as the house takes on paler tones with Becky Russell’s white light evoking images of ice flows as papers are strewn across the floor and that the black fabric backdrop echoes the polar ice shelves that dominate the bays around the frozen continent. The house is also used to add variety to how Phegan engages with the set as she climbs rooftops and sits on the tilted construction.Whatever your level of awareness of the various cold climates and the connections humans have had with the inhospitable cold environments, WINTER’S END ensures that there is enough information to complete a more common understanding of what modern engagements with the environment make for environments that are rapidly changing. The recognition that expedition, ecotourism and activities that engage with nature are in fact causing the pervasiveness and damage to once remote and isolated areas was a contradiction well known and understood by the public response, while other facts were met with the surprise of new awareness which served to heighten public interest in the other information Janaczewska uncovered.A refreshing new take on raising awareness of the climate crisis, THE END OF WINTER gives a more personal connection to the cause. For those with an existing fascination with ice and cold, this reviewer has a long interest in stories of polar ice exploration, it’s a wonderful way to engage with the cause and conversation by connecting with something different from the prevailing considerations. For those who may have thought that cold and winter were bad, as weather broadcasters and ancient legends and stories have told us, it reconnects people to the awe and beauty that comes with cold and therefore helps people to understand why it needs to be protected. so that it is not relegated to photographs and stories of what once was.
Photos: Claire Hawley