Written by Gordon
Directed by Amy
Presented by Alchemy
in association with
Shadow House PITS and
ACT HUB Theatre,
Kingston to 16 April
Reviewed by Len Power
13 April 2022
First performed in 1994, Gordon Graham’s ‘The Boys’ is a
searing dissection of one family and one particular case of gender violence but
it’s clear from constant news headlines that this kind of violence is continuing
in our society. The play, unfortunately,
feels like it was written yesterday, not 25 years ago.
Returning from prison to his mother’s house in Sydney’s Western Suburbs, Brett Sprague brings anger and suspicion with him. The love-hate relationship with his two brothers and his ingrained negative attitude to females ultimately leads to an incident of appalling violence by him and his brothers towards a young woman.
Played in the round at ACT HUB, the director, Amy Kowalczuk, has given the play a visceral, confronting production that is almost overwhelming at times. She has obtained strong performances from her cast whose vivid characterizations bring these recognizable people to life.
Alex Hoskison plays Brett Sprague as a forceful, intimidating and prowling animal constantly ready to use violence to dominate and get his way. It’s a skilful and very believable performance.
|Alex Hoskison (Brett) and Cole Hilder (Glenn)
Liz St Clair Long as Sandra Sprague, the mother of the boys, beautifully captures the spirit of a woman unable to see her ‘boys’ as the problem adults they’ve become. There’s great subtlety in her work, building a memorable character of a deluded and pathetic woman seriously out of her depth.
|Meaghan Stewart (Michelle), Liz St Clair Long (Sandra) and Indy Scarletti (Jackie)
Cole Hilder, as Glenn, the brother who tries but is not strong enough to escape his family ties, and Blue Hyslop as Stevie, a younger brother showing signs of the same rage as his brother Brett, also give fine performances as two seriously damaged men.
Meaghan Stewart gives her character of Brett’s girlfriend, Michelle, a strength riddled with doubts. She has produced a very recognizable character. There is also fine work from Caitlin Baker as Nola and Indy Scarletti as Jackie, the other two girlfriends.
The physicality of the production is impressive. Movement director, Michelle Norris, has done good work here, adding strong realism where necessary.
This is a fine production of a play about a difficult subject. If it seems too confronting, then it has done its job. Gender violence in this country has to stop.
Len Power's reviews
are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’
programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at https://justpowerwriting.blogspot.com/.