New theatre company IO Performance isn't shying away from a challenge.
Its second production is a 10-piece ensemble play tackling trauma and deep sadness, told across three timelines running concurrently, on both the stage and a projected screen, for two hours without intermission.
Actor and producer Grace Roberts said there was ecstatic dancing backstage after the final line on opening night, as the cast celebrated the fact that they'd actually pulled it off.
"It was very ambitious, and there were definite moments where we were doubting ourselves - the actors were in a panic about three weeks ago, which always happens in a production, you're always second-guessing it," she said.
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"But about a week and a half ago we started really fitting into each others' rhythms and grooves and it all came together.
"Everyone's feeling really, really good about it."
Anatomy of a Suicide tells the story of three generations of women suffering depression, and is exactly as 'heavy, vivid and raw' as its title implies.
It was written by Alice Birch in 2017, and director of the IO Performance run, Chris Jackson, has thrown an additional spanner in the works by introducing a camera.
The camera eye, controlled by Jackson, zooms in on different actors and plot arcs and projects them live above the stage as the play progresses.
It's a narrative overload - and it's meant to be, said Roberts. An audience member can't possibly take in everything that happens on one, or two, or even three viewings.
"The script is three timelines running at the same time, so you have three conversations running simultaneously," she said.
"The audience has to choose which one they listen to as the play goes on - the audience can't be passive; they have to engage, which has its pros and cons."
The play is rated MA15+, with warnings of mental illness, suicide, drug use, and post-natal depression. Information on Headspace and Lifeline will be available in the foyer.
"Going into the foyer after the show was over it was a really interesting vibe," Roberts said.
"There were a lot of people who couldn't express what they felt because they were still processing.
"We were getting messages a few hours after the show was over and the following morning from people who had processed it, and were able to put their feelings into words. It's a devastating story, but it's beautifully told."
Anatomy of a Suicide runs Wednesday, August 14 to Saturday, August 17, and then Wednesday, August 21 to Saturday, August 24 at IO HQ, 180 Cimitiere Street, at 8pm. Tickets cost $40 adult, $30 concession, through Trybooking.
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