THEATRE – Brothers Wreck – Odeon – 4K

Nelson Baker and Dion Williams in Brothers WreckBy Peter Maddern

In her program note, writer and director Jada Alberts writes “ may be second nature to think that tragedy won’t happen to you. But this is not something Indigenous Australians have the luxury to dream.” From there it doesn’t take long in her 2015 work Brothers Wreck for that very thing to happen.

This is a tale of unending torment for an underclass that seems to find taking a trick beyond them for often no fault of their own – self harm, sickness and accident all seem to conspire against life with stasis.

Twenty something Ruben (Dion Williams) is constantly under the pump and seemingly trapped in a defensive state of mind that defeats the purposes of those who seek to help him, his sister Adele (Leonie Whyman), his mate Jarrod (Nelson Baker) and Parole Officer David (Trevor Jamieson).  The set of grey replete with Chris Petridis’s diffused pale light along with its chain link screen doors seems often as much a prison as it does a home; the incessant whining of Kelly Ryall’s soundscape and the equally persistent rain adds to the sense of capture and pressure from which release is so hard.

Aunt Petra’s (Lisa Flanagan) arrival helps drive the narrative that in family lies the potential for what is required to survive all this.

This joint State Theatre and Malthouse production in the nicely revamped Odeon Theatre is unashamedly about and performed by indigenous members.   Though sometimes hard to decipher words, Williams is a force that sustains the plot. Lisa Flanagan lifts the whole production with her other-worldly wisdom.

While Albert’s note continues into polemic, her play keeps asking us – relatively wealthy, comfortable theatre goers – to consider how this world exists for people in a country as fortunate as ours. It’s a difficult tale well told.

Kryztoff Rating   4K

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