The Stage, Goodwood Institute
Saturday 6 May, 2023.
How do you assess the worth of your own life? Can we ever gain enough distance, enough perspective to reflect on it to the point we are totally honest? Not just ‘insights,’ but complete self-integration through forgiveness and reconciliation. Reaching such clarity may come through meditation, but that takes much self-discipline. Or you can become a modern hermit as in this excellent play, and disconnect from society, with all its complexities and expectations. Such drop-outs we generally dismiss as drop-kicks, and at best beach-combers. Like all great theatre this play asks the right questions in a fresh way, and without necessarily providing answers, it at least gives us the guiding lighthouse from one man’s redemptive journey.
The text is beguilingly colloquial and engagingly simple, like a chat with a stranger you meet and may never see again. Yet the story-telling is spellbinding. The audience sits on the stage for this one-person show, intimately invited into the desolation of a life lived alone. This allows us to share the closeness in the vastness of a desert, and out onto the wider stretches of the ocean. This outsider/outlier turns his back on the demands of everyday life, his family and friends, only to find himself still entangled in the web of their relationships in his mind. The natural beauty around, the sand, sea and sky help to soften the edge of the loneliness and make it acceptable. But he cannot escape the inner struggle to tame the inner rage that remains latent. Today when we are more and more digitally connected, we are also more isolated, and less and less socially connected. Who has the courage to get lost – not just lost for words, but to lose one’s ego and dissolve into the elements around, earth, air and water?
Shore Break takes a deep dive into the male/masculine identity, where an inability to express feelings can become a refusal to do so. Here the withdrawal is taken to the extreme, and it pushes him past the brink of despair into serious self-realization. We share the thrill of riding the perfect wave, witness the pummelling from the surging surf, the salt spray and sun-burn on his soul. Like all good personal writing it opens up all levels of possible interpretation. Each person present felt the prod to their existential angst in their own way. The performance and script by Chris Pitman are a tour de force, and the standing ovation well-deserved after this marathon of a monologue. The direction by Chelsea Griffith is subtle and uncluttered. A compelling and quintessentially Australian theatre piece with universal appeal, this powerful play is an important addition to our understanding of ourselves and our own contribution to this world.
Presented by ninetyfive.theatre and Brink Productions
Shore Break continues at Goodwood Institute at various times until Sat 12 May.
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