Friday 19 December 2014

Flashblaks review

With their recent residency at La Mama Theatre, Ilbijerri Theatre Company, Australia’s longest-running Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander theatrical company, performed a staged reading of a new piece of work by Jacob Boehme and directed by Isaac Drandic.

Flashblaks looked at a variety of themes revolving around identity, whether it be cultural, sexual, individual or social. Boehme used three generations of women from one Indigenous family to tell this story and despite these generational gaps, the issues and struggles end in corresponding for each woman.

The youngest of the three women, Sarah (Monica McDonald) finds her own personal culture struggle through the fact that her father is white-Irish and her mother is Indigenous. Sarah’s sexuality is also explored and her facebook chats with Craig (Christian Taylor) provided the right level of lightheartedness and comedy to counteract the more dramatic stories of Flashblaks.

As we were sitting and listening to the story unfold without any costumes, props or direction, the strength of Boehme’s writing was obvious, whereupon the story flowed with much ease as it weaved in and out of the lives of its characters. My only issue regarding the script was the inclusion of a side story between the characters played by Taylor and Melodie Reynold-Diarra, which seemed out of place with the rest of the pace and tone of Flashblaks.

Boehme has given all characters clear and distinct voices, and the talented cast (including Ian Michael and Nikki Ashby) works with the language to successfully portray believable characters. There was some brilliant reading of scenes from McDonald and Tammy Anderson as Sarah’s mother and I look forward to seeing their interactions play out fully on stage. The delivery and facial expressions in particularly from McDonald were genuine and her comedic timing was subtle yet very effective.

Flashblaks is an intelligent and well thought-out piece of theatre, and this reading showcased some dedicated performances. While a profound examination of indigenous and female experience, Boehme’s exploration of identity and the consideration of how much of our present is due to our past are themes that everyone can relate to regardless of race, sexuality and gender. Whilst no answers are drawn or any resolutions found, Boehme opens up dialogue and invites discussion on these important topics and it will be very interesting to see how this piece progresses into a fully staged production.

Flashblaks was performed at La Mama Theatre from 12-14 December.

* Original review appeared on Theatre Press on 19 December

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