Great White

Nerida Dickinson

A triumphant tale of the vastness of soul, suffering and time, told through the tiny details of three small lives.
Great White

A triumphant tale of the vastness of soul, suffering and time, told through the tiny details of three small lives.

An arresting start grabs the audience’s attention, with the backstory gradually unfolding: Ben goes to the beach with his girlfriend, Lauren. He is alone in the water after a tiff, and she has returned to the sand in a huff. There is blood in the water from where she bit him, attracting another visitor to the beach.

Less of a predator thriller, more of a love story, this is a simple tale that is hard to effectively convey at second hand. Its main points are made in the silences and its largest actions happen beyond the depicted events. It feels overly simplistic to say that Great White is about a trip to the seaside, but equally overstated to say it is a tale about love and life, fear and sacrifice – and yet both descriptions hold true.

On the playfully creative set, using a sea of balloons to great effect, all three actors carried their roles strongly. Will O’Mahony as Ben played in all three parts of the story, showing strength of character not only by performing in swim shorts throughout an entire winter production, but also in allowing the doubts, weaknesses and fears of his character to come through. By allowing Ben to be less than ‘great’, O’Mahony himself demonstrated great dramatic ability and range. Adriane Daff played the lost soul of the shark to perfection, her memory of teenage schoolgirl life and long years as lone apex predator merging to create an ambiguous character, who none the less finds herself ‘greater’ than she had believed. Lauren embraces her cute image of a clueless girlfriend, but Mikala Westall brought hopes, fears, suspicions and playfulness to reveal a warts and all partner, a believable reason for Ben to return to life on shore.

The technical elements were deliberately and effectively underplayed, lighting giving us a taste of ‘shark weather’ for most of the play. Additional sound was notably absent most of the time, allowing the actors to bring every nuance of each breath and possibly even heartbeat to the audience in the intimate Blue Room setting.

Immediately human in a humorous, accessible presentation, the themes are universal and eternal in their scope, making Great White enjoyable on several levels in the theatre and leaving tasty food for thought as an additional takeaway treat.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Great White

Presented by The Skeletal System

Writer and Director: Will O’Mahony

Set and Costume Design: Alicia Clements

Sound Design: Will Slade

Lighting Design: Joe Lui

Performed by Adriane Daff, Mikala Westall and Will O’Mahony


The Blue Room Theatre, Perth Cultural Centre, Northbridge

12-29 June


What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Nerida Dickinson is a writer with an interest in the arts. Previously based in Melbourne and Manchester, she is observing the growth of Perth's arts sector with interest.