Wednesday, 10 March 2004

Crossing the Bridge by Gaylene Carbis, March 10, 2004

Crossing the Bridge by Gaylene Carbis
La Mama, March 10 to 28, 2004
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Crossing the Bridge rests on a common issue facing the children of men who survived the Second World War.

Their fathers were emotionally distant and traumatised by their wartime experiences.

Writer, Gaylene Carbis, is partially successful in representing the impact on both generations.

Don, (Sam Sejavka) travels by train with his partner, Jan, (Samantha Bond) to his elderly parents' home in the middle of nowhere.

The summer heat is oppressive, as is the atmosphere in this dysfunctional family home.

Don has little contact with his very conservative parents,

Alan (Ross Thomson) and Blanche. (Brenda Palmer) They ignore his success as a poet, novelist and psychologist.

Their focus is on his parade of girlfriends, his debt and his wasteful use of their electric fan.

Thompson's portrayal of Alan is both moving and comical.

He captures the frailty of this old digger as well as his stubbornness and dogged refusal to admit fault or brook any change to his daily routine.

Director, Lynne Ellis, stages the play in an unusual configuration with actors sitting and walking amongst the audience. We seem to be right inside this grim little home.

Sejavka seems more comfortable in the later scenes in which he allows us to see Don's more vulnerable side.

Carbis writes some moving and funny passages but has not yet found the balance between the naturalistic dialogue and poetic monologues.

The characters and relationships could benefit from some further development and deepening in the writing.

At present, they all seem to be on one note: Don is negative, Jane is bemused, Blanche is evasive and Alan is recalcitrant

There is great potential in the issue of child abuse triggered by a father's wartime trauma. The problems with the script are that there are no surprises.

When the argument comes to a head the impact is limited because all the family problems have been revealed repeatedly early in the play.

Family crisis and argument always has an illogical flow. However, there needs to be some logic to the characters and their revelations.

The script needs a clearer dramatic arc to the narrative and fuller relationships between characters to realise its full potential.

LOOK FOR: Ross Thompson's stroppy old man.

By Kate Herbert

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