Presented by Talk Out Loud
Reviewed 15th March 2018
After losing her teenage brother to suicide, Mary Galouzis established Talk Out Loud; a company that provides targeted prevention initatives, activities and programs for young people under 30 years of age. Removing the stigma surrounding mental illness is an extremely worthy objective, and Galouzis and her many volunteers should be commended for their work. This Adelaide Fringe Festival, they have opted to write and perform a one-act play that explores the themes of youth suicide, and the reverberations it can have throughout society.
The concept of this piece is good; the spectre of a victim of suicide addresses his family and friends as they reflect on his life and ask themselves how, and why, it happened. Unfortuantely, for this reviewer, it didn’t quite get there, and it was mainly due to the quality of the writing. Galouzis’ script consisted of many long, awkward soliloquies, and other fleeting, seemingly pointless scenes. This also meant that much of the acting suffered as well.
Consisting primarily of volunteers from Talk Out Loud, many of the cast were unconvincing in their roles, as they struggled with the extreme emotional range required of them. Having said that, there were some good performances – especially from the trained actors in the group. Anthony Von Der Borch was captivating as the suicide victim Nick. Denise Alexander’s delivery of Nick’s mother, as she struggled to come to terms with her sons death, was stunning – a performance worthy of any stage around the country. Stefanie Rossi also gave a remarkable performance as Nick’s sister, and the bride-to-be, Hannah; her anguished cries reverberated around the theatre and drew audible gasps from the audience.
Galouzis direction, on the most part, was effective, particularly in two memorable moments. As Von Der Borch stands on a chair in the centre of stage as the tormented and suicidal Nick, the cast bustle noisily around him in a blood-red lighting scape; a visual representation of the inundation of thoughts consuming him. In the play’s final scene, harrowing Australian statistics were read, as each of the cast ceremonially placed a pair of shoes at the front of the stage. These shoes, it was later said, belonged to local victims of suicide; a moving ending to a confronting play. With only one, small, entry to stage, however, many scene changes were long and clumsy, and with a considerable number of props, this play needed a venue with both sides of the stage available!
Opening night was plagued with technical errors, and one could only feel sorry for the cast and crew. The numerous musical references listed in the program were not heard at all, and the projection at the back cut in and out for the entire performance. Hopefully these issues will be rectified as the season continues.
Numerous audience members, many of them having a personal connection to the topic, were moved to tears – and in that regard this play succeeded. It opened up conversations and continued to break down the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health. Kudos.
Reviewed by Ben Francis
Rating out of 5: 2.5
Venue: The Studio @ The Bakehouse Theatre
Season: 15th-17th March @ 6pm
Duration: 60 minutes