Written by Caleb Lewis
Directed by Sandra Eldridge
A Darlinghurst Theatre Company Production
Eternity Theatre, Darlinghurst
29 September to 21 October 2018
Saw this last night. Entertaining.
A nifty look at cultural misunderstandings, altruism and the cost of genuine caring. We have two white women, a white man, a Sudanese family wanting to stand on their own feet and a Muslim mini-mart owner doubling as a doctor.
Audience enjoys it. Laughs at politically incorrect language but probably shouldn’t. Is it drama? Is it comedy? Is it Home & Away?
Opening scene terrific. Comedic but misleading. Set-up with lovely Prosper Deng trying to support his family is hilarious but then we never see him again. Wah!
I seemed to have missed vital information and spent the entire play wanting him to come back and wondering where he was and whether this was going to turn into a fascinating twisted tale. Was Amath lying? Where was Prosper? Couldn’t believe he had left her. Had she left him? Was he working two jobs to support her? Was it all a ruse? Was he dead? But we just saw him with Maggie. He can’t be. What’s the time frame? Puzzling. And then the Kenyan. Was Prosper the Kenyan? That can’t be. Maybe it’s just me. Help, someone…
A further crucial point I found puzzling. Scene where Maggie brings loan agreement for Amath to sign and Amath looks at document and says something like: what is this? My friend thought she was surprised at being offered the loan. I thought she was alarmed. It was vital to know. Because there is a change of heart from Maggie. She decides to help these people not block them. But why?
But enough confusion. Nice intrigue in gradually discovering relationship between Leo and Maggie. And who the dude in hospital was (I thought at first it was her father…) And seeing the transformation of Benny was heartbreaking but somehow not quite believable. Maybe the attack in the mini-mart needs a rethink. Either fully naturalistic or nightmarishly surreal. It seems it was neither.
Set is busy. Do we need four painted sections on the floor supposedly representing four places? Do we need LED light sign telling us where the action is? Do we really need to be told we are now at the Deng Home? It’s all very clear. No signalling required.
Towards the end of the play, there is an over-reliance on overly-dramatic music. Benny is left sprawled on floor…we don’t need drastic light changes and metallic music to make us feel something. Or do we? I hope not. Some aspects of this production have very TV-like staging – particular the short scenes, the unexciting character entrances and exits – hmmm.
It would have been nice if Kate Bookallil had more to do. It would have been nice to see Prosper (Thuso Lekwape) one more time (loved that guy!) And I would have loved to have seen Maggie looking as aggro and fed-up as she is in the promos!
Verdict: Clever writing, fine acting, overall look and feel not sure about.
With (in alphabetical order):
Kate Bookallil as Mahira Sadat/Doctor
Branden Christine as Amath Deng
Alan Dukes as Leo the Loan Shark
Anna Lee as Georgina
Thuso Lekwape as Prosper/Benedict Deng
Eliza Logan as Maggie