As director Peter Hinton comments in his notes, “Maybe in this regard [seeing our parents in ourselves] it’s a play about Fate.” Just hours earlier I was awash in Portuguese “fado” songs where fatalistic lyrics did not shy away from revealing uncomfortable truths.
Using a similar technique as can be found in Michel Tremblay’s Albertine in Five Times (cross-reference below), Andrew Bovell’s tale of desperate, dark family secrets is notable for an over-abundance of continental coincidence between events set in motion in the UK and their horrific outcomes in Australia.
The acting is universally excellent. Special mention must be made of Graeme Somerville’s heroic, character-determined portrayal of an immensely sick human being.
With Irene bearing down on the Eastern seaboard, the notion of too much of life’s most precious substance couldn’t be more readily reinforced.
Yet with all of the other works that have made the Shaw’s 50th Anniversary a celebration of the magic of theatre, the tenor and tone of Bovell’s multi-generational tale brought the party to a truly pathetic close. The seemingly total absence of hope and help hung in the air like a dense cloud without a breath of air to move it anywhere. Is that really how we treat those we love, especially when their inner demons cannot be put down? JWR