When you first walk into the small, dark KXT theatre, you see the zig zagging barbed wire fence dominating the stage and you get a sense that this is going to be a fraught 80 odd minutes. It is indeed sombre and at times quite intense, but not discomforting. Daniel Keene’s play is a depiction of the street-level, inglorious side of war, told in a succession of vignettes. There’s no intermission but there is a clear divide about midway through, when the fencing is removed and the set becomes the waiting room at a military air base.
In the first section, characters walk on, mostly in twos or threes, have a brief scene then reappear episodically to advance their story. While the stories don’t overlap, there is a distinct sense of everyone sharing the same time and space, the same doom-ridden environment, made bare and bleak by war. In the second section, the same vignette device is used, however, the storylines are connected: five families await an aeroplane carrying the bodies of five soldiers killed in the Middle East. The second section is perhaps less nuanced in content and language than the first, but it does have some powerful moments.
Overall, the play has some nice shifts in dynamics, good dialogue and a range of identifiable characters. It’s a very large cast, with none of the actors doubling up on characters. This helps add to their credibility and also gives a sense of distance and change over the course of the play. The cast ranges across demographics and ability and this actually infuses an authentic feel to the family/random towns people scenarios, as well as being satisfying for the audience.
Until Nov 24. Kings Cross Theatre – Kings Cross Hotel, 244/248 William St, Potts Point. $28-$35+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.kingsxtheatre.com
Reviewed by Rita Bratovich