June 05, 2013

Matters of life, death …and slapstick

Come Out Festival 2013
May 22 – 31.

by debbie tucker green
State Theatre Company
The Space, Adelaide Festival Centre
May 29.

The Vistors
by Sean Riley
Urban Myth Theatre Company
The Goodwood Institute, Adelaide
May 31. Tickets : $ 18.50
Bookings: BASS 131 246 or
Until June 8.

The Moon is a Balloon
Devised and performed by Patch Theatre
Odeon Theatre, Norwood, Adelaide.
June 1.

Come Out, Adelaide’s leading festival for young people began in 1974 and has been a biennial event since 1975. For its 21st incarnation, Creative Director, Michael Hill has assembled a statewide program involving more than 100,000 school children and their families, and gathered artists and performance works from across Australia, Europe and North America.

Three Adelaide companies featured distinctively in the final week. State Theatre’s Random, a fifty minute monologue by Caribbean English writer, debbie tucker green , poignantly charts the feelings and reactions of a family of four from an ordinary breakfast to a tragic afternoon.

Performed by Zindzi Okenyo (tautly directed by Nescha Jelk) Random vividly describes both the prosaic and the unbearable as tucker green threads the unnamed voices of a busy housemother, an uncommunicative father, a laddish, easy-going son and his restless, querulous sister. Gradually the morning gripes give way to panic as police arrive to inform them that the son has been murdered in a city high street in a random race attack. The suspicions, fears, hatreds and despair of a black family unfold and it is the daughter who is left to ask –‘Random don’t happen to everybody. So. How come ‘random’ haveta happen to
him ? This shit ent fair.””

Random is a challenge for young audiences unfamiliar with the Caribbean patois and UK references but Okenyo’s skillfully sustained cadence, and the directness of the text, held the schools performance I attended in pin-drop silence.

The Visitors, a new play by Sean Riley (directed by Glenn Hayden) is also about domestic calamity. In this instance an exuberant, blended family of five has to come rapidly to terms with the father’s early onset dementia.

Nicholas Garsden leads energetically as Tom Peel, the father becoming a stranger to himself and a visitor to his receding family, with fine support from Ashton Malcolm, Bridget Walters, and bright young performers from Urban Myth including Maiah Stewardson, Finn Caulfield and Ella Lawry. The Visitors takes us to some painful truths but Sean Riley’s lively, often quirky, text and Hayden’s heart-felt production remind us that facing them is the first step to overcoming them.

A world away from these tribulations is The Moon is a Balloon, the newest work for 3 to 8 year olds from the excellent Patch Theatre. It is a visual delight choreographed for performers Katrina Lazaroff and Rob Griffin, using white balloons of all sizes in a mix of play, dance and comic slapstick. Directed by Dave Brown, with delectable projections and lighting from David Gadsden and music of the spheres played live by guitarist Josh Bennett, it is sublime theatre for any age.

Murray Bramwell

“Matters of life, death …and slapstick” The Australian, June 5, 2013, p.12.

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