The Brady Bunch is the latest work from Richard Frankland and explores, as the title aptly suggests, the notions of family and the facts and fallacies that accompany the family stereotype.
As part of the La Mama Explorations season the production had a mere two days to go from page to stage and it is a credit to the actors for being able to explore and connect with the narrative to the extent they did.
The story offers a glimpse into family life, and specifically into the dynamics of one particular Koorie family. The program notes describe it as a ‘living story following three generations of a rural Koori family as they face funerals, conflict, violence, isolation, exclusion, homelessness, discrimination, terminal illness, alcoholism, drug abuse, home invasions, road vehicle accidents, murder and attempted suicide.’
Sounds heavy? Well, reality doesn’t always have happily-ever-afters and this is one of the show’s strength: its rawness.
Without being didactic Frankland’s writing highlights the issues that exist in the Koorie community and does so with honesty, sensitivity and strength. Lateral Violence may not be a term bandied about in general parlance but it is one of the most real and relevant poisons that infect communities, all communities in Australia.
As a work-in-progress this show has plenty of potential to develop into a strong full bodied production. Within an hour there were some very powerful moments particularly from Sandy Jarrett Greenwood, Melodie Reynolds andSyd Brisbane while the rest of the cast offered committed performances.
Unfortunately, the projection and music were quite distracting and the script certainly needs some rigorous refining; but the material in its own way is raw and powerful, and indeed fractured. And that too has its own aesthetic. As a work of theatre this series of vignettes are witnesses to the lateral violence in the community and between communities.
Ultimately, the strongest and most clearly articulated message of the show was that while these issues certainly may be ‘someone’s business’ it is the responsibility of all Australians to wake up and take notice.
A work that needs the space and time to breathe and expand but will certainly be one to look out for in the future.