Review: As We Forgive (Griffin Theatre Company / Tasmania Performs)

griffinVenue: SBW Stables Theatre (Kings Cross NSW), May 11 – 21, 2016
Playwright: Tom Holloway
Director: Julian Meyrick
Cast: Robert Jarman

Theatre review
Forgiveness is complicated and unstable, and where it is most needed, its difficulty is at its greatest. In Tom Holloway’s As We Forgive, three monologues featuring an older man demonstrate the purpose of forgiveness, as it relates to a self that needs to find emancipation that can only be derived from an act of absolution. When we realise that life is short, the urgency for deliverance becomes even more pronounced, and Holloway uses the mechanism of age in his storytelling to amplify the poignancy of his message.

The writing is sublime, with evocative and powerful imagery that connect on levels of emotion, spirituality and intellect. Actor Robert Jarman does an exquisite job of the words, sensitively articulating each sentence so that the text communicates with richness and lucidity. Although quiet in presence and at times too gentle with his approach, Jarman is a charismatic personality effective at conveying profound sentimentality. There is an elegance to his work that is memorable for its simplicity, as well as an inner authenticity that contributes to the cogency of the play’s concepts.

The production is melancholic, beautifully so, but a more dynamic atmosphere would perhaps provide an experience that is more engrossing. Lisa Garland’s photo projections and Raffaele Marcellino’s music add tender dimensions to an already delicate staging for an overall effect that is undoubtedly appealing, but for its eighty-minute duration, greater fluctuations in energy levels is required.

The men in As We Forgive are consumed by vengeance, hatred and remorse. Their stories are dramatised but we perceive their feelings to be familiar and true. All our lives parallel, and no matter the obstacles we face, our humanity binds us, allowing us to recognise each other’s wounds and suffering. We may not all be lonely people, but finding forgiveness is a solitary task, and those who succeed are the luckier ones.

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