[THEATRE/Comedy/Drama ~ AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE ~ AUSTRALIAN EXCLUSIVE ~ AUS]
Odeon Theatre, Norwood, Tue 1 Mar.
State Theatre Company’s current offering Girls & Boys is an ‘issues driven’ monologue looking at family violence. Audiences are given fair warning of the themes in the promotional material, but English playwright, Dennis Kelly, focuses on this rising social scourge in the hope that it results in tangible action.
Kelly’s script unpacks ideas around male violence and the deterioration of relationships. A personal nerve could be twinged for many people in his depiction of this marriage and in places it takes on the flavour of a domestic comedy. There is no graphic violence on stage but the descriptions of a violent act are searing, and with Mitchel Butel’s Direction it packs a mighty emotional punch.
Justine Clarke’s performance as a woman candidly confiding to us about the destruction of her family is totally compelling. She embodies her character impeccably and draws us into her version of events with her candour. Her performance is nuanced and she shows she has great comic timing (Yes, there is lots of humour in this show as well). Despite her character’s raucous rough edges and constant swearing we immediately identify with her as she recalls her past, happier life.
Justine Clarke’s mimed-interactions with the children at the centre of the play also deserves a mention; fabulous work! And her subsequent transformation in the final section is stellar. Clarke’s face and actions become etched with her character’s pain and trauma, but also convey her strength.
Ailsa Patterson’s set design and Nigel Levings’ lighting add layers to the plot. The inclusion of a relay of children’s night lights being triggered one by one across a bookshelf is such an effective motif to highlight not only the honouring of her own children, but as a symbol of how common this tragedy is.
Monologues are frequently showcased in our current theatre offerings, but this one is a cut above the rest. Not always comfortable viewing, but always impressive. Be prepared to ruminate on this one for days.
Justine Clarke performs Girls & Boys at Odeon Theatre, Norwood, at various times, until Sat 12 Mar.
Book at <adelaidefestival.com>. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.