Survivors of domestic violence and violence against women come from all walks of life. The crime does not discriminate, but what do you do when your son or your boyfriend commits a heinous crime against another person? Do you call the police, or do you turn a blind eye? In Gordon Graham's highly acclaimed play, The Boys, these themes are explored through the eyes of the female figures in the perpetrator's lives.
Linda Cookson does a magnificent job in her portrayal of Sandra, the matriarch
of the family. All she wants is to have her three sons together and everything
she does is done out of a mother's love for her children. There are moments
where Sandra is in scenes where she is in the background as conversations
happen around her, yet you can always feel what she is thinking and trying to
push the troubling thoughts away with how her facial expressions and body
language is conveyed.
However, much of the difficulties I had in otherwise ascribing to the play's dialogue came down to the rest of the casting and as a result, the tension and
suspense of the script was not able to be fully appreciated. Rebecca Fortuna
and Heidi Lupprian (Michelle and Jackie) do work powerfully in their scenes together
and with Cookson, yet there was a strong lack of chemistry between each of their
characters and their respective partners, Brett and Glenn. Michael Shanahan and
Ben Taylor (Brett and Glenn) both showed promise but I feel that they needed to
get further inside their characters to show them as complex fully fleshed-out people
rather than just a familiar stereotype. Unfortunately Malachi Grimsley and Lucy Orr as Stevie and Nola
were miscast, as I found neither actor was able to convincingly portray their
The stage design has a good level of authenticity and is quite befitting of the Sprague family. The backyard is set towards the front of stage and decorated with milk crates, an esky of beer and the ground scattered with rubbish and stray grass. A door leading towards the back of the stage takes you into the lounge room decorated with two sofas, magazines, clothing and a number of family photos and other items.
Luci Kendo's direction ensures that all the space available is utilised to permit
the characters to explore the space and express themselves further. However, there were
a few moments where conversation took place with one character
"outside" and another one as they were walking from
"inside" the back of the house into the "outside" which
seemed a little clumsy.
The Boys is a confronting piece of theatre on domestic violence and
violence against women. While this is loosely based on true events from the
1986 murder of Anita Cobby, the play reminds us that
domestic violence can affect anyone, even the central women within the Sprague family. They
may be aware of their boyfriend's guilt, but these women have been - to an
extent - broken down into defending the men they fell in love with, with
seemingly no other option. With suitable casting and a deeper examination of the
characters, I feel certain this could have proven to be a highly affecting production.
Venue: Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham St, Albert Park, 3206
Season: Until 20 February | Wed - Sat 8pm
Tickets: $33 Full | $25 Conc
Bookings: Gasworks Arts Park
* Original review appeared
on Theatre Press on 16 February.