JESUS WANTS ME FOR A SUNBEAM is an extraordinarily moving night at the theatre, with performances emotionally pitched to the narrative movements of the work, accessible writing which strikes at the heart and a multilayered thematic examination of a very difficult subject. But there is an underlying reality to this National Theatre of Parramatta production: it’s not about what happens in the room. It is about issues that will haunt the watcher’s sleeping and it’s about what the play begs of us, empathy inside the judgements and assumptions when a story hits the headlines.
In one room in a family home we meet the Pollards, a tight knit somewhat unusual family. They have been so, we understand, from the time Linda and Rick met. With the perfect family unit of an older boy, Ben, and a younger daughter, Emma known as Wol, the parents are very aware of the perils in life. In a presumption of protectiveness they have closed themselves off without withdrawing completely. Especially not from Linda’s parents, and Grandma and Grandpa are frequent visitors. And witnesses.
Because something has happened here and Ben, now grown, is trying to work out why. Through his eyes and the reminiscences of his father, the audience is slowly made aware of what has been sacrificed in the name of the children. It is never as it seems, this play, and such is quality of the writing from Steve Rodgers (adapted from the Peter Goldsworthy novella) that the narrative carries consistency of line yet is unpretentiously mysterious. The characters are completely understandable and the moral questions are enriched by this engagement. Continue reading JESUS WANTS ME FOR A SUNBEAM. GO.