Apr 6, 2008

The Kid

The Kid is a thrilling and exhilarating piece of theatre. A wild ride, a bold and daring work, substantial and revealing. Please see it, if you love good theatre. Words crackle and burn, actors ache with intensity and desire. For two hours I was entranced and delighted by the words of the great Michael Gow. The Kid was Gow's first play. Written in 1983, it is now receiving a revival performance at the Griffin Theatre Company's SBW Stables Theatre.

The play tells the story of two brothers and a sister who escape small country town inertia to chase a dream in Sydney. We begin with Donald, a shy and retiring type, sitting in a cafe. He is an opera buff and works in a book store. However, his quiet world is interrupted by the rambunctious group of Dean, Snake and Aspro. They shatter his peace and encourage him to take the trip to Sydney. The four characters are a disparate crew. Dean (Akos Armont) is suave and menacing, dangerous yet strangely seductive. Especially for the impressionable Donald (Eamon Farren). Snake (Emma Palmer) is trashy and coarse, loud and vivacious, whilst Aspro (Andrew Ryan) is simple and somewhat grotesque. We learn that Aspro has had an accident and the plan is to travel to Sydney and collect his compensation. At this point the play would seem to be maybe no more then a enjoyable and entertaining road trip story. However the arrival in Sydney sees many encounters with desperate and dangerous characters. We meet a father and daughter under the dangerous control of a religious cult, proclaiming the end of the earth. We also meet a hyper estate agent, a distressed and shattered lonely woman and a couple on the cusp of destruction. All the while, we see the change and metamorphosis of the four young people, who were hoping to escape the dead end nature of country Australia, but unfortunately encounter only pain and despair. Aspro's health worsens, whilst Snake becomes more responsible as their world starts to disintegrate. But it is the relationship between Dean and Donald that is the eye of this cyclonic play. Dean attracts people like bees to honey. His danger is alluring and Donald is desperate to please him. The byplay between the two characters is riveting and essential. And although every member of the cast is excellent, it is Armont and Farren who truly excel. Armont is perfect as the charismatic Dean, his movement and facial expressions ably capturing the spirit of the character, whilst Farren subtly portrays the seething vulnerability of his part. The words of Gow offer a drama of many layers, many levels. He has an innate knack for capturing conversation. Full of wit and sparkle, his words are real and convincing. He also has a remarkable gift for relaying the essence of place. Quintessentially Australian, without ever descending into cliche, you can just about smell the world he has written about. The Kid is exciting, fun, funny. But also moving, threatening, revealing and thoroughly engrossing. See it, now. While it lasts.


  • At April 06, 2008 , Blogger Terry said...

    Hi Wayne,

    Terry from New Jersey in the USA here.

    Your blog name flashed up on my blogger dashboard, and it was so intriguing, I couldn't help but click on it. Would be interested in hearing the genesis of it.

    You're very good at these music reviews. You make even this old fuddy duddy want to go to one of the concerts. The only act I even recognize the name of, though, being from the US and all, is Patty Griffin, and it just so happens I actually saw her perform. It was in this small venue in Collingswood, NJ called the Scottish Rite Auditorium, which is an old Free Mason's worship hall that the town took over and converted to a music venue. It has great acoustics and was the perfect place for an artist such as Patty to play. I was only 4 seats away from the stage, and it was so intimate, it felt like I was sitting in her living room listening to her. And to think I wouldn't have even saw her perform if it weren't for the fact that someone offered me some free tickets. Ahhhhhh.

    Anyway, keep up the good work...and really, you should seriously consider trying to sell some of your writing to music magazines or newspapers!

  • At April 06, 2008 , Blogger Wayne said...

    Hi Terry,

    Thanks for saying hello. I live in Sydney and I started this blog about 18 months ago as way of writing about my passions, which are music, film and theatre. So far I have met a lot of wonderful people, so it has been truly worthwhile. I envy your Patty Griffin experience. There is something absolutely special about an intimate show like that. And she is such a generous and glorious performer.

    I have visited the US quite a few times and I always find the people super friendly and generous. Although my only visit to NJ was for an NFL game at Giants Stadium.

    Thanks a lot for the kind words too. I have thought about making this writing caper more full time, although for now it is just a part time outlet for my passion.

  • At April 17, 2008 , Blogger Zahra said...

    Hey wayne,

    i went to see the kid. i enjoyed it. but i didnt understand the socio-historical context? what was happening around australia when these children decided to move to sydney from the north? and how do u feel it is relevant to todays day and age?

    also, about the religous context in the play..what did that really bring to it?

    as you can tell, im new to theatre. trying to broaden my interests. i hope u have some input!

  • At April 17, 2008 , Blogger Wayne said...

    Hey Zahra,

    I don't think there was anything specific to that time and place to cause the kids to move to Sydney. Just general lack of money and opportunity made them seek out Sydney. So, I think that makes the play universal, in that young people are always moving from small town inertia to larger cities to seek more activity and wealth. Which I believe makes the play still relevant today.

    I think the religious zealots in the play, as well as being interesting characters, were there to give the young people a bigger and more dangerous view of the world. It seemed to fascinate Dean.
    Ultimately they rejected their view of the world as it was obviously apocalyptic and very destructive. That's my take on it anyway.

    I am trying to see more theatre these days, as I find the immediacy of the performances a definite plus. Ruben Guthrie is the next play on the agenda for me.


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