Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Brothers Wreck, Belvoir

Belvoir's had an on-and-off relationship with indigenous drama - some strong hits ("Radiance", "Up The Road", "Namatjira","The Sapphires") and a few less so (I didn't think much of "Jack Charles vs The Crown" or "Welcome To Broome", for example). At its strongest, Belvoir's used indigenous performers in wide-ranging plays, and brought them into the ensemble strongly.

"Brothers Wreck" is ... perhaps a little too middle-of-the-road as it goes. There's some strength and heartfelt work here, and it's obviously passionate about the issue of suicide among indigenous youth, and the ways through it with family and support network. But there's a slight sense that vital details that would make this an individual story rather than a "typical one" are missing.

The story of Ruben (Hunter Page-Lochard) whose brother has just committed suicide in the opening scene, is told in a series of scenes as he attempts to push away from everybody's attempts to engage and support him. His court-mandated counselling sessions with David (Cramer Cain) do come across as a exposition device rather than something really earned (there's virtually no details about whatever crime may have caused a court to order them). It's on stronger ground with the loose bonds of family and friends - cousin-come-sister Adele (Rarriwuy Hick, strong but a little too keen to smile through the pain), her boyfriend Jarrod (Bjorn Stewart, who presents a good solid generous soul) and aunt Petra (Lisa Flanagan, whose late arrival brings a breath of fresh air and realistic tough love into the proceedings).

It's a piece from the heart, but seems about a draft or two away from really flying in all ways. Clearly, Leah Purcell's directed passionately, and the performances are strong and real. And the set evokes the wet hot north wonderfully (even on the verge of winter), all open spaces and dripping windows.

This is a play that some people are going to take to their heart anyway - it's passionate and it's concerned and it's well performed. But I think Jada Alberts script too often goes for the easy route of letting the performances fill in where the script should establish the characters better. It's ... not bad. But it could be better.

No comments:

Post a Comment