My husband returned from his daily dog walk, drenched from a sudden downpour of rain. He had been stopped in the park by a man who wanted to know the time and who then proceeded to deliver a half hour diatribe about how messed up the world is and it’s all because of technology. Eventually he shook my husband’s hand, thanked him for the chat and left. The delay meant my husband was caught in the rain and when he arrived home he noticed that the reasonably new guttering was overflowing. Once inside he banged his shin on the coffee table that had been moved for vacuuming. He wasn’t happy.
The familiar routine, order and placement of our time and space become second nature and we travel through our days without questioning or thinking, until something disrupts us. We only really notice when things are not working or in their usual spot or people randomly attack or interrupt us. We believe that we can control our time, homes, interactions and things. They are part of the way we establish our identity and attempt to organize our time and our lives.
Stories Like These production company, formed in 2008, is presenting its latest play FIREFACE in a co-production with atyp (Australian Theatre for Young People), whose venue under the Sydney Theatre Company, is both intimate and comfortable. Both companies use emerging and established professional actors as well as local and international playwrights.
FIREFACE introduces us to an alarmingly sad dysfunctional family struggling together through their dark and desperate journey.
German playwright Marius Von Mayenburg, who first presented this award-winning play in 1997, has delved boldly into the turmoil of adolescence, a brother and sister, Kurt and Olga, in love and inseparable, who do not want to grow up and become like their parents.
When Olga brings home her first boyfriend, Paul, Kurt’s obsession with his sister turns to anger. His favourite hobby, firebombing, takes a serious turn resulting in his face being burnt. The parents are seemingly unaware of the intensity of their children’s liaison, being somewhat distracted trying to save their own marriage.
Father lives through his newspapers, Mother is lonely for conversation, but feels quite at home undressing in front of Kurt, who is hopelessly entangled with his sister. Father does not relate to Kurt and dismisses his behaviour as “puberty”, favouring the company of Paul.
Olga gives up Paul, returns to Kurt, and the pair begin their downward spiral. They stop talking to their parents, choosing to eat dinner on the stairs.
There is some good humour in this dark story. The script moves quickly within its 94 short scenes. There is great sadness in the lack of communication, particularly for Mother, who tries so hard to get her son back. Lucy Miller is fabulous as Mother. She has the compassion, cynicism and sensuality which bring her character to life. James Lugton plays Father, the dry, introspective, frustrated engineer extremely well. Paul is played by the charismatic Ryan Bennett, refreshingly naïve, but perhaps lacking suitable responses at the end of the play.
Darcie Irwin-Simpson as Olga and Darcy Brown as Kurt, are superb as the tormented lead characters – reckless, sultry and withdrawn. Their fluid movements are beautifully orchestrated by director Luke Rogers and the sexual contact is subtle and full of love.
FIREFACE touches a deep chord in our fragility and provokes curiosity about human behaviour.
FIREFACE is playing from August 1 to 17 at atyp Studio 1, The Wharf, Pier 4/5, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay.
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