[Theatre/Contemporary ~ WORLD PREMIERE ~ AUS]
Holden Street Theatres – The Studio, Wed 17 Feb.
‘That boy’, ‘that girl’ or ‘that family’, is a term of derision often used by many to suggest that a child or family is a problem best avoided at all costs. Thankfully most of us can glibly sidestep the day to day reality of being on the other end of such labels. Not so Sarah!
The plot unfolds from within the toy strewn bedroom of Sarah’s eight year old son, Tom. After an incident Tom is in hospital and Sarah is frantically trying to locate a loved toy and pack a bag to take to him. It takes the whole play to find it. Picking up every single piece of Lego is a device that almost stretches our patience, but keeps Sarah in the room long enough to tell us her story. In the process of searching his room, and putting it, and incidentally herself, back into working order, we hear about the impact of Sarah’s experiences raising a child with acute sensory and anxiety challenges.
Sarah’s husband Simon has fled to greener pastures, leaving Sarah to raise two children on her own, an older daughter and Tom. Each day is a minefield, and Sarah is clearly battle-scarred. She displays a vulnerability akin to someone in such a situation, but also a determination to make things work for Tom which can only come from a very deep love.
This is Martha Lott’s first foray into scriptwriting, and it is clear that she and director Yasmin Gurreeboo, script developers Nescha Jelk, Anne Brookman and Lyn Pike all have an ear for authentic dialogue and good storytelling. Based on true life events and workshopped anecdotes, That Boy moulds unique individual accounts into a sensitive script.
Lott’s performance skilfully adds warmth and credibility to the character of Sarah, struggling at times to understand her child, being an advocate for her child in the education system, and ultimately being unreservedly able to love her child.
In part this is a consciousness raising play, but it is equally a celebration of the families for whom this is daily life.
Cathy Tune & Adrian Miller
That Boy continues at Holden Street Theatres, at various times, until Sun 21 Mar and at Centennial Hall, Goolwa, from 7.30pm on Sun 7 Mar.
Book at FringeTIX on 1300 621 255 or adelaidefringe.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.