Australia playwright Daniel Keene has been writing for the theatre for almost 40 years and has a multitude of awards to his name. Presented as part of the Poppy Seed Festival, Ilumi-Nation Theatre's newest production, Lost: 5 takes five of Keene's monologues and weaves them together to share a variety of stories on homelessness set within the Melbourne CBD.
While not all monologues deal directly with the homeless and homelessness, director Michelle McNamara has chosen pieces that highlight human behaviour and how hopeless and alone people can feel. In some cases they shed light on why and how people find themselves without a home, particularly through Kaddish, where a man's grief of watching his partner die becomes all too overwhelming for him to accept and deal with.
Some of the characters, such as the woman in The Rain, appear more than once, while others such as the young man in A Foudling has the briefest of stories by comparison. Unfortunately it's these shorter monologues that are more intriguing and perhaps cutting some of the repeat characters would have allowed for a more focused production.
Keene's writing flows beautifully from word to word and sentence to sentence but in this instance, the five voices presented felt very similar and the tone and delivery didn't feel authentic. A lack of grittiness and realness was apparent with some of the pieces and at times, the performances felt too theatrical.
Composer and sound design MBYRO (Matt Brown) sits side of stage, in a makeshift cafe creating an effective soundscape for the show, while gently highlighting how easy it is to turn a blind eye to those around us.
Simultaneous moments of beauty and despair flow through Lost: 5, however these are fleeting moments, with an overall rawness missing in this production. Despite this, Ilumi-Nation Theatre does raise awareness on an issue that is getting worse in Melbourne and by initiating conversation about it now could potentially save people a lot of heartache later.
Venue: 44 St Martins Lane, South Yarra
Season: until 3 December | Tues - Sun 8:00pm, 2 December 4pm
Tickets: $35 Full | $25 Conc
Bookings: Poppy Seed Festival
Photo Credit: Sarah Steiner