Review: The Big Bruise (Montague Basement)

montagueVenue: 107 Projects (Redfern NSW), Apr 5 – 16, 2016
Playwright: Saro Lusty-Cavallari
Director: Saro Lusty-Cavallari
Cast: Samuel Brewer
Image by Omnes Photography

Theatre review
A young man is contemplating suicide. At work, at play and at home, it is all that he thinks about. Saro Lusty-Cavallari’s meditation on the subject is neither emotional nor intellectual, but what he does present in The Big Bruise is an honest representation that many are able to recognise. It is a work about the lightness and indeed meaninglessness, that life can appear to possess. The character in the play is lost and aimless, with only the temptation of death offering him a true force of gravity. In comparison, everything else is inconsequential and impotent, so he hangs on to his obsession and the certainty it provides.

Performing that strange amalgamation of angst and frivolity is Samuel Brewer, an engaging actor whose confident presence is called upon to give solid grounding to the piece. Brewer is an energetic performer, whether playing brash or subdued, with an audacious power to his delivery that keeps us transfixed. The one-man show is beautifully placed on a raw stage, thoughtfully designed by Lusty-Cavallari to convey the calm but troubled state of being in which his creation resides. Improvements could be made for a more absorbing experience, but its visceral and surprisingly sensual qualities leave a strong impression.

The protagonist in The Big Bruise wants so much of life, but spends all his efforts at ending it. It is true that identifying one’s passions can be the biggest challenge a person can face, for what happens thereafter is simply to follow that calling. For some, that revelation never arrives, but for most, it is only a matter of time. We can wait for that divine moment in passivity or we can be constructive and find ways to speed up that process. If all else fails, one should simply stop the narcissistic act of perpetual introspection and look beyond the individual, for much of the world is in need of love and care, if only we could shift our fruitless vanity onto something altruistic and altogether more selfless.