Copyrighted to Australian Stage
Such is Vivienne Walshe’s award winning Australian play This is where we live.
The stream-of-consciousness style writing offers the audience a glimpse into an outback town where two unlikely teenagers are drawn together to combat institutions, perception, family and expectation. And do so through the most private reflections, contemplations; and ultimately confessions.
Yet this is not an unfamiliar narrative. Chloe (Shaelee Rooke) is a young woman teetering on a precipice – the veneer of bravado she unapologetically brandishes is her armour; yet when that is dismantled by Chris (Oliver de Rohan) the gentle, shy son of the schoolteacher neither are sure of how to respond to the issues that have been buried deep in the underworld of their experiences.
Both Rooke and de Rohan are accomplished actors giving committed performances that for the most part successfully brought to life Walshe’s carefully crafted vignettes. At times Rooke’s portrayal of Chloe verged on the melodramatic, the over-emphasis on the onomatopoeia disruptive and exaggerated accent unnecessary. However in contrast, de Rohan’s far more restrained yet equally powerful performance found its complement and together they showcased a gamut of not often displayed emotion, power dynamics and systems of control.
With only two chairs as props (two others seemed merely to have been placed for sitting purposes) the staging was mostly effective yet again often exaggerated actions rendered it almost cartoonish affecting the poetry of the work.
More than just a love story about Orpheus leading his Eurydice out of the small backwater town that is hell for them both this is a brave work that pushes the limits of what we expect when the familiar dissolves – and the unknown is within our reach. Effortlessly weaving Australian colloquialisms, uniquely local imagery and unlikely soul mates this is a beautifully crafted example of contemporary Australian playwriting.
Paperbark Theatre Company presents
This is Where We Live
by Vivienne Walshe
Venue: Assembly George Square Studios (Venue 17)
Dates: Aug 9 – 10, 2014