Presented as part of the Midsumma Festival by Fairly Lucid Productions and directed by Casey Gould, Ben Noble's Member was incited by the death of gay man Scott Johnson in 1988, when his body found at the bottom of a cliff at Manly. Deemed a suicide, there has always been speculation that he was a victim of a gay hate-crime. However, the narrative focuses on Corey, your typical Aussie living in Manly with his wife and child. We follow Corey through various moments in his life that have led to where he is now, in a hospital room, his son lying unconscious, seemingly fighting for his life.
Ben Noble is exemplary in his performance as Corey (and all the other characters he plays). From the very beginning, our eyes are glued on him and even as he begins to unravel and the truth becomes clearer, we still cannot look away. Corey is a complex character but Noble is able to bring some insight into his actions and thoughts while still holding him accountable for them.
There are some very difficult moments to watch in the show: not
because of what's happening on stage, but because of what's happening in our head. Noble is so convincing with his delivery of the dialogue and the characters he plays, it is impossible to not begin visualising what is being described. You see the fear in the
eyes of the victims with every insult slurred, you hear the moment when
foot connects with rib and you can almost feel the blood splatter from every strike
to the face.
The lighting design by Lisa Mibus hones
in on the intensity of the events and despite the empty space bar for a single chair, builds well on creating a claustrophobic environment. Jacob Battista's stage
design that covered the entire floor in one sheet of silver
gloss works perfectly in bringing more depth to the work. The water mirrored surface not only captures Noble reflecting on
his own behaviour and past, but also ensuring the audience reflects on the
community we live in and acknowledging that these things have happened
and continue to happen.
Despite its set time period, Member
could easily be describing events from current times with homophobic
attacks on people of the GLBTIQ community still occurring when you consider that only last week, a
gay man was bashed in St Kilda Royal Botanical Gardens, and stickers were
placed along Chapel St stating "Cure AIDS, Kick a Poofter to Death".
is an important story that needs to be told. It's important because it
reminds us, that no matter how far we have come as a community and as a
society, we still have so much further to go before people such as Scott
Johnson can feel safe in their community and in their homes. With a
completely sold out run, here's hoping this show gets a second season
some time soon.
Member was performed between 19 - 30 January at La Mama Theatre
* Original review appeared on Theatre Press on 2 February.