Venue: Belvoir St Theatre (Surry Hills NSW), Sep 26 – Oct 27, 2013
Playwright: Kit Brookman
Director: Kit Brookman
Actors: Luke Mullins, Susan Prior, Tom Conroy, Paul Gleeson, Sandy Gore
Every family has a skeleton in the closet, and in Orestes’ case, the troubles that plague his family are all-consuming, but also mysterious. Kit Brookman’s script is sensitive and perceptive, with a depiction of emotional torment that cuts to the bone. The strongest element to his storytelling is the way his characters are seen to suffer from psychological afflictions, which none of them are able to articulate or to truly understand. There are misunderstandings and miscommunication, along with blurred and contradictory recollections of shared histories.
Orestes is played by Luke Mullins, who impresses with the portrayal of a damaged man without performing a lot of emotional upheaval. This is a confused man who escapes life at every turn, and while he tries to get on with things, it is evident to us that his inner demons are alive and festering. Mullins’ truthful approach is realistic and relatable. His character works hard to maintain a calm exterior but the actor keeps us engaged with a highly nuanced and thoroughly studied performance. Other players shine with different strengths, including Susan Prior giving the family a dimension of emotional volatility, and Sandy Gore’s sense of austere resolve brings a beautiful gravitas to the play.
Mel Page’s set design is simple but perfectly executed. Turning the small stage into a living garden situates the story in a place of familiarity and intimacy, making Small And Tired an everyday Australian tale. Brookman’s direction consciously adds small details to always bring the action back to mundane life, preventing his ideas from turning into abstract concepts. The play has a message, but it is conveyed tenderly, and it is that message that transforms an entertaining night at the theatre into an experience of enlightenment and catharsis.