Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Friday, 8 July 2016
Courage To Kill, July 6, 2016 ***
THEATRE By Lars Norén, English
translation by Marita Lindholm Gochman
Produced by Public Front, presented La
Mama Theatre La Mama,
until July 17, 2016 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars:***
Review also published in print (& possibly online) at Herald Sun Arts on Friday, July 8, 2016
Stephen House & Luke Mulquiney
Forced together in an icy apartment on a bleak and rainy day in Sweden, a
father and son play out their frighteningly dysfunctional relationship to its
Lars Norén’s 1980s
play, Courage To Kill, is brutally realistic and Richard Murphet,
director of this production, forces Norén’s embittered characters into dangerously
close proximity in the tiny, claustrophobic space of La Mama.
The only brief relief from the fraught interaction between
Erik (Luke Mulquiney)
and his father, Ernst (Stephen House), is the arrival of Erik’s
casual girlfriend, Radka (Tamara
Natt), in the second half of this long play.
The old and ailing father has arrived unannounced at his
son’s uncomfortable flat and expects his son to care for him, but Erik is not complying.
Norén’s script hints at unpleasant secrets in the family’s history
and Murphet focuses on the slow, brooding intensity between father and son as
they peel away the layers of the past and strip each other of any pretence.
Mulquiney is rigid with repressed rage as the
depressed and untrusting son, expressing Erik’s secretiveness and despair
through his obsessive cutting of magazine clippings and his searching interrogation
of his father.
However, Mulquiney’s clenched fists and fixed grimace reflect the actor’s own
tension more than that of the character.
House prowls the
small space as the demanding and clingy father, pursuing the son like a hunter
and oppressing him with his constant presence.
But House struggles
to make the drunk, promiscuous father credible in a performance that is
unfocussed and lacks clear and sustained connection to the text or the other
The discomfort of
the actors is palpable when House and Mulquiney lose their place in the script early
in the play.
The second half is
more powerful, cohesive and intense as it careers to its inevitable conclusion.
interrupts the father and son’s relentless arguing and barely masked anger with
a breezy, youthful energy and sassiness, although it is hard to understand why
Radka would stay in such a tense situation for so long.
Despite the flaws in performances, Norén’s play is a
challenging exploration of family dysfunction and tragedy.