Review: Debris (Red Line Productions)

redlineVenue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Nov 24 – 28, 2015
Playwright: Dennis Kelly
Director: Sean Hawkins
Cast: Felix Jozeps, Megan McGlinchey

Theatre review
Two small children, isolated and severely neglected, completely unaware about how the rest of the world lives. Their normal is in fact horrific, but they are none the wiser. We bring innocent lives to be, and imagine that every baby is given love and care because the alternative is unfathomable and simply unbearable. Dennis Kelly’s Debris illustrates a truth that we know exist but rarely acknowledge. It exposes the ugliest of humanity, and amplifies their brutality by having them voiced by the very young, removing any possibility of moral justification on our part as viewers.

The script is highly evocative and poetic in its surreal, or perhaps fantastical approach, inspired by the minds of children, and their unbridled way of interpreting things that they encounter, but the production is a simple one, with emphasis on performance by two fine actors and not much else. Our own artistry is called upon to visualise a more vivid experience than what is actually presented on stage. Lighting has a tendency to be too obvious in its creative choices, but sound design by Tom Hogan is delicate, thoughtful and effective. Felix Jozeps and Megan McGlinchey play the forsaken children with an enormous energy that keeps the show fast paced and taut. Their roles are harrowing but ultimately straightforward, with insufficient complexity built into the performance that could deliver nuances beyond the predictable.

Debris is an intense and emotionally violent show that demands our attention, but has nothing unusual to say. It is an excellent platform for actors who wish to flex their dramatic muscles, and we are certainly entertained by the display of extraordinary passion, but for all the pain that we see unleashed, we feel little of it. The fact that there are children suffering is not news to anyone, but it is information that bears repeating. We can think about how to make lives better, but it is also true that we do not need to create more lives at all.