12/07/2011 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

presented by Crow Crow Productions and Eliza Ocaña in association with Tamarama Rock Surfers

I was able to have a chat with some of the cast and crew after the preview on Sunday night – I love previews, they’re so raw – and since they had expressed a desire to hear my thoughts on the play I felt very privileged to do so. There’s a school of thought that one should be very careful about what is said in theatre foyers – that it’s a very dangerous place for feedback, especially around opening night (I try and abide by the golden rule as writ by Patrick Marber “it’s vulgar to discuss the work at the opening of the work…”) – but since the director Sarah Giles had explicitly asked at the top of the show for our thoughts; even Marber concedes: “…somebody’s gotta do it”.

Which turned out to be a good move, since I was initially puzzled by what I had seen, and even a short chat with the artists helped clarify my feelings about the play and their intent behind it. As I left, still processing the performance I felt much more satisfied by my ability to respond to the challenges of the work. That in itself is a testament to the writing – that it pushes its audience around; ever-so-slightly manipulating fears and hatreds in the world it creates, a place two steps removed from the reality of Sydney, Australia, 21C (so far, so good at least); but depicting a war that somehow we know too well. It’s dark, and cold, getting darker and colder – and the worst question of all to ask is just how far away from this are we? How many square meals missed before civilisation breaks down into this? Caught up in the deceptively simple narrative are all manner of meditations and questions in theatrical form about the past, future, what’s right and oh-so-very-wrong. Writer Joanna Erskine takes the audience into some godless hell to pick clean the bones of such long-dead concepts as the moral absolutism we once attached to the nature of heroism, truth, idealism and nostalgia for things long past.. But it must be said that however confused about KIJE we get – is he a force for good or evil, or a way to see ourselves through a more flattering mirror? – in the moments of climax the play gives a distinctive moral compass to these four very lost boys at the centre of KIJE’s world.

It’s always good seeing new work, especially in preview form – however imperfectly fresh – I love that feeling of not knowing what I’m in for. This one’s certainly a smack around the head. Brutal, bold and thought provoking stuff. And they’ve only just begun.

K.I.J.E. by Joanna Erskine, directed by Sarah Giles, featuring Fayssal Bazzi, TJ Power, Gabriel Fancourt, Wade Briggs, Christopher Tomkinson and Michelle Durman. Playing at the Old Fitzroy Hotel until July 30.

Entry filed under: Inside Theatre REVIEWS, New Work, Sydney THEATRE. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

ARTS & SOCIAL MEDIA ALIVE! But Not Kicking “We Were Meant To Be Explorers”

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