Friday, 3 August 2012

Helicopter, MTC, Aug 2, 2012 **1/2

By Angela Betzien, Melbourne Theatre Company
Lawler Studio, MTC, Aug 2 to  17, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Aug 2
Stars: 2 & ½

 Review will appear  in Herald Sun on Tues Aug 7.
Helicopter by Angela Betzien, is a script stuffed too full with socially pertinent issues: wealth, racism, suffocating parenting, bullying, violence, Developed and Developing Worlds, prescription drug use, anorexia – and the list goes on.

With so many issues, the story becomes convoluted, lacks a coherent direction and its message is confused.

Well-heeled but neurotic parents, played by Paul Denny and Daniela Farinacci, live in their 6-bedroom, 4-bathroom McMansion with a pool, while African refugees from Uganda rent the house next door...  

Although the ‘helicopter mother’ (Farinacci) hovers over her disturbed, teenage son (Charles Grounds), she fails to protect him from harm, including school bullies and, more importantly, she misses the fact that he is a ticking time bomb.

The core of the narrative is the tragic accident that caused the death of the African neighbours’ toddler when Dad (Denny) reversed out of his drive.

Terry Yeboah is compelling as Thomas, the young, Ugandan refugee who nobly strives to mend relations between the families, hoping only for an apology for his niece’s death.

Although Thomas has our sympathy, Betzien’s father, mother and son are genuinely dislikeable characters.

Leticia C├íceres’s direction and awkward staging do not fill the cavernous stage, while Pete Goodwin’s sound design is intrusive without illuminating the narrative.

The actors look uncomfortable delivering Betzien’s didactic, stilted, unnecessarily cryptic dialogue, which is peppered with monologues to flesh out the characters.

There is a play waiting to get out here, but the script, direction and the gratuitously shocking and unsatisfying ending do it a disservice.

By Kate Herbert

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