THE FACTORY is writer and director Vela Manusaute’s musical tribute to the Pacific Island people that migrated and worked in the factories of New Zealand in the 1950s and 1960s. A simple morality tale is made into a memorable production through some truly spectacular singing.
The play opens with Kavana (Aleni Tufuga) and his daughter Losa (Milly Grant) leaving Samoa to a sublime choral farewell. The richness and harmony of the Samoan voices is electrifying. Kavana’s wife has been killed in a cyclone and Kavana and Losa are going to New Zealand, the land of milk and honey, so that they can work in a factory and send money back to their family. The importance of family is emphasised throughout the story.
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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