Friday, March 6, 2020


Written by Joanna Murray-Smith
Directed by Tom Healey
Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre & Critical Stages Touring
The Q Theatre, Queanbeyan to 7 March

Reviewed by Len Power 5 March 2020

Building a dry stone wall in his garden, affable American, Andy, regales us with sunny reminiscences of his life and, in particular, his relationship with his wife and son, Robbie.  While his love and affection for his family seems rock solid, like his garden wall, it becomes increasingly clear that you will find cracks if you look for them.

The issue of gun violence and the personal impact that comes with it is unflinchingly detailed by the writer.  We are drawn into the detail of a family relationship that we can all relate to.  It’s not perfect but it has a love, security and a normalcy that most of us experience in our own lives.  When a terrible incident in that family’s life suddenly sweeps that all away, they are left with questions that can never be answered.

Rather than an overt political statement for gun control, Joanna Murray-Smith’s play makes its point through an attack on the one secure thing most of us have – the family.  Because we can identify with our own family experiences, the play is intensely moving and frightening.  What if it happened to us?

Joe Petruzzi as Andy gives a marathon one-person performance that is convincing in its depth from start to finish.  Limited to a single setting – a man building a wall - director, Tom Healey, has staged the work with skill, judging the right amount of pace and movement and ensuring the emotional level is believable throughout.

The attractive set design by Darryl Cordell has a particularly fine painted backdrop that is a work of art in itself.  The lighting design by Bronwyn Pringle and the subtle sound design and compositions by Patrick Cronin add considerable atmosphere to the show.

This is a highly moving experience, beautifully staged with a great performance by Joe Petruzzi.  Joanna Murray-Smith is on record as saying that this is the best play she has written.  I’m inclined to agree.

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on the Artsound FM 92.7 ‘In the Foyer’ program on Mondays and Wednesdays at 3.30pm.

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