Theatre / “The Boys”, by Gordon Graham, directed by Amy Kowlaczuk. At ACT Hub, Kingston, until April 16. Reviewed by ARNE FEALING.
THE Anita Cobby murder in 1986 took over the minds of Australians, raced through the media and shocked the public.
While that drama played out in real life, it is another case to present on stage the lives of the three brothers and the women in their lives involved at the fulcrum of that murder.
The tense script by Gordon Graham is shocking and confronting. And ultimately perfectly aware of the impact it’s going to have on its audience. The invitation is open to a directorial approach that maintains the awareness of the psychodrama it unfolds. And the capacity to capture each and every heartbeat of the characters as they present the fateful drama.
Anita Cobby wasn’t aware of the moment where her life changed. And nor does the play make that a central focus. Instead it presents the back beat behind the social context, power struggles, and relationships behind the real humans, as their tense dramas spin their lives out of and into control.
The presentation of the drama in this script kept the audience hovering; observing every moment in this theatre-in-the-round presentation. Directed with truth by Kowlaczuk, acted with force, compassion, power and control by each of the cast members. Clear lighting gave every face movement, costume decision and moment space.
The show and its deliberate direction made sure the quality of the script and the gender-based and cultural-based question marks, sociological and eternal issues between males and females, were blown out of control and presented within vast proportions in the minute lives of the men and women on stage.
The capacity to understand the fundamentally shocking act of nature and violence, in the act of the murdering of a child grown into a woman, and picked out of her life within the lives of the murderous boys who couldn’t have known the outcome of that night, let alone prepare themselves to manage the powers that were upon them that led them there.
This became the context to present an ultimately murderous story in a classical presentation of how women support their husbands, their lovers and their children, to control them to become better people.
It was the job of director and new company founder, Amy Kowlaczuk, to ensure the production focused on the moments of the lives of the characters that propelled them toward the crime that has now become legendary in Australian folk history.
From the initial simmering moment through Caitlin Baker playing Nola, a young women caught up in the tangles and the oppositions of her life, repeated in profoundly corrupted ways, in the lives of “The Boys”, this play shocks and awes – and succeeds.
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