Sunday 3 March 2024

Every Lovely Terrible Thing review

We all love a bit of family drama and conflict don't we? Well the Coleman household certainly do. In Adam Fawcett's Every Lovely Terrible Thing, we are introduced to six members of the one family across three generations. Over the course of several months, tensions escalate and secrets are revealed that will shatter the fragile domestic unit that they are all living under.

The ensemble confidently find their footing with their characters and deliver some very natural performances. Wil King is fascinating as Cooper, the youngest of the Colemans. Struggling with their own identity while also having to constantly deal with their father's constant beratement, a chance encounter with local tradie Lachie, sets them on a path that they may not be ready to face. Lyall Brooks and Sharon Davis are a formidable pairing that are required to do most of the heavy lifting as bickering twins Charles and Britta where each harbours their own pain, shame and regrets. Its testament to the skills the cast have that they can make us care for these people despite the fact they are not easily likeable figures.

The dialogue is sharp and snappy and Fawcett imbues individual humour and perspectives for each of their characters, which serves as a great outlet for the audience to release the tension that builds throughout the production. Musical interludes are surprising and effective, particularity those around Cooper and his infatuation with Lachie.

While the dialogue is engaging, it is the narrative that has a few missteps. There are developments that play out too simplistically, such as Lachie's blossoming relationship with Cooper, where given his circumstances it's difficult to believe the tradie would casually be sitting on the sofa watching a movie at Cooper's home with their family outside. Other events occur out of the blue, which although they create a shock, some build up or foreshadowing would benefit the audience and not startle us out of the world being presented.

Director Justin Nott plays a delicate but rewarding push-pull with the drama and comedy, slowly drawing the audience in, until the full force of the Colemans wildness is unleashed upon us. Nott possesses a firm understanding of the story and brings this to animated life with strong performances and a terrific design team. Harry Gill has constructed a highly effective domestic stage with a connecting living room, kitchen and dining room and a backyard that feels lived in and used. Along with Sidney Younger's lighting design, we are given a dose of familiarity with a sprinkling of gloom and anxiety into the space with the lampshade lighting. The empty void that surrounds the home and the constant blackouts within the script, further play with the darkness that is enveloping the Coleman household.

Every Lovely Terrible Thing is a striking exploration on trauma and grief and the challenges that come with staying together as a family when it becomes increasingly clear that healing is not possible when together. Fawcett‘s story brings many laughs and sadness but it also serves as a hopeful reminder that you can still be scared and do things to make life better.

Show Details

Venue: Theatre Works, 14 Acland St, St. Kilda
Season: until 16 Mar | Tues - Sat 7:30pm, Sat 5pm
Duration: 140 minutes (including 20 minute interval)
Tickets: $45 Full | $35 Concession | 20 for $20
 Theatre Works

Image credit: Pia Johnson

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