On Wednesday night I saw the wonderful Nathan Schultz Presents production of Jerry Mayer’s 2 Across. I had equally high hopes for The Flood, but sadly the Tim Horgan (writer/director) show just was not in the same league. It is always great to see new work performed by an enthusiastic cast in front of local audiences. But The Flood is in need of some serious editing and reworking before it comes back to a Brisbane stage.
Set in January 2011, the play is set in the kitchen/lounge area of a Yeronga house. The 7 acre property is on the banks of the Brisbane river, and represents a major investment for the four housemates, who have found the only way to get onto the property ladder is to pool their resources. Conflicts about lifestyle, house cleanliness and responsibilities abound as some members of the household seem to have continued the lifestyle of their youth (throwing beer cans around, smoking inside the house, taking drugs, being reluctant to clean, and enjoying having parties) while others are looking for a more homely experience. Damo (Bernard Mina) and Sandra (Briellen Juracic) return from a 3 week holiday to the mess left by Glenn (Cliff Ellis) and Karl (Jack Murphy), and we follow the experiences of the four main characters during the ensuing Brisbane Flood.
As far as I know, there were no crocodiles swimming around Brisbane during the floods (or at any other time). The introduction of the crocodile (Mitchell Cobcroft) highlights that the Brisbane floods are almost incidental to the action of the play. I’d suggest the use of a different catalyst/external event to force 4 such housemates to grow up and help them to “see the forest from the trees” (Glenn) would have worked better (a storm? a gas main explosion? anything really). There was so much trauma, humour, and life experience that happened only 6 years ago in Brisbane in January 2011, much of which the spectators who attended last night’s The Flood would have experienced. That people bought tickets to the show demonstrates that there is a ready audience for such Brisbane 2011 stories—that is, plays grounded in the real event.
Horgan and the team are to be congratulated for their investment in bringing the play to the Anywhere Festival. But many of the monologues were over-long, and each act could have been shortened/tightened up without losing any drama or what comedy there is. The play is not ‘hilarious’ (as claimed in the program notes and promotion). There was some humour: Juracic’s explosion at the lack of respect and care for the house was beautifully performed and drew the first laughs of the evening, while Murphy and Mina entertained with their “stoned” watching of the TV news, and Ellis made the most of his lines in the second half.
The use of the Queen Alexandra Home space was well-thought through—although sight-lines are a challenge if you are not in the front row, and it did appear that there was very little leg room for those who were in the back row. The walls created for the show supported the sense of isolation—and the representation of the floodwaters took a little time to set up and dismantle, but helped to create a real sense of the encroachment of the water and restriction of their movement in the house.
With a significant edit, and a new catalyst… well… then it might work. I’d suggest the start point would be to work on a show length of one hour, and not the 115 or so minutes of the opening night (included a 15 minute interval).
Note: Rated M (Adult Themes, Coarse Language, and Drug Use).
The reviewer attended the 11th May 2017 (7:30pm) performance.
Tickets http://anywheretheatre.com/listings/flood/ $20 . 115 minutes (including 15 minute interval). The show continues until 21st May, 2017.