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Brothers Wreck – Belvoir

A troubled young man blames himself for events beyond his control. It may not be a new story, but it is extremely moving.
By Jessica Keath
June 02, 2014
By Jessica Keath
June 02, 2014

Brothers Wreck is a superb piece of theatre. Set in Darwin, Jada Alberts’ contemporary drama follows the life of a tight-knit, if troubled, Indigenous family. Daily life in the top end is interrupted by torrential rain, plenty of expletives and much laughter. Designer Dale Ferguson has transformed the upstairs theatre at Belvoir into a simple home interior with a concrete floor, metal beams and upturned milk crates serving as the family coffee table.

The play follows the redemptive journey of Ruben (Hunter Page-Lochard), a 21-year-old masquerading as a tough guy to get through the grief of losing his best friend, Joe, to suicide. Ruben’s sister, Adele (Rarriwuy Hick); her boyfriend (Bjorn Stewart); and Ruben's Aunty Petra (Lisa Flanagan) rally around him to make sure he doesn't suffer the same fate. The story of a troubled young man blaming himself for events beyond his control may not be new, but it is extremely moving. The narrative simplicity of Alberts’ story is a strength in this production, as each actor is crystal clear and hell bent on their objective, to save Ruben.

This clarity is also down to Leah Purcell’s direction. She uses clever snap transitions from nightclub to lounge room to counsellor’s office, driving the action headlong to the climax, followed by a warm and tender denouement. This is cathartic drama at its best.

Page-Lochard as Ruben is remarkable to watch. From the first scene, where he sits paralysed by the trauma of seeing his dead friend, to his embarrassingly cocky, drunken displays of bravura, he’s a physically dynamic, captivating presence on stage. Hick and Stewart as lovers portray convincing tenderness and Stewart is every bit the gentle giant, refusing to leave Ruben’s side even when he’s being a belligerent little shit. Cramer Cain, playing Ruben’s counsellor, is poised and intelligent but fierce when he needs to be. Lisa Flanagan as Aunty Petra enters the fray halfway through and lifts the stakes, hitting Ruben with impressive authority that his sister and counsellor don’t hold over him. The genuine care the cast have for each other is palpable.

Brothers Wreck is powerful storytelling, which deservedly received a standing ovation on opening night. Go and see this play.

Image by Brett Boardman.

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