Venue: The Depot Theatre (Marrickville NSW), Nov 2 – 12, 2016
Playwright: Murray Lambert
Director: Murray Lambert
Cast: Robert Carne, Matt Lausch, Emily McGowan, Nick O’Regan, Kristelle Zibara
Image by Clare Hawley
Australia may be far away from a lot of the world, but we cannot help but obsess over the idea that savages from places we know little about, are coming to overwhelm and steal everything we own. Of course, this is exactly what has been happening to Aboriginal peoples for two-and-a-half centuries, but these days, it seems the aggressors have somehow convinced themselves that the tables have turned, and foreigners are busy plotting to swamp this land illegitimately.
A substantial part of our daily political discourse involves the perceived threat of refugees, and how harshly our political leaders are willing to treat asylum seekers who dare brave our shores. Murray Lambert’s My Father’s Left Testicle talks about the offshore immigration detention centres that are constantly on the news, presenting absurd renditions of horrific stories reported over the last few years.
We may have heard it all before, but this is information that bears repeating. The atrocities never seem to cease, and even though our society is at a loss as to what can actually be done to alleviate the situation and achieve a humane result, we must not stop discussing these issues, repetitive as they might be, and risk forgetting the disaster occurring at our doorstep.
Lambert frames the stories within a context of very black comedy, some sequences of which are genuinely funny and others proving to be very uncomfortable viewing, although undeniably powerful. Often imaginative and passionate, the script includes clever dialogue that make up for where it lacks structural sophistication. The production suffers slightly from inelegant scene transitions, but charming work on set design by John Alan Sullivan is a highlight.
The work is performed confidently by a spirited ensemble of five. The meatiest roles are taken on by Nick O’Regan, who attacks with gusto and a sincerity that helps us connect with the play’s assertions. Also memorable is Robert Carne’s ability to convey authenticity, notwithstanding the production’s surreal and mischievous tone.
The show’s evocative title and its tagline “My Father’s Left Testicle… Go Back To Where You Came From!” suggests a desire to see a world without boundaries, where land is shared and where things that separate people are dissolved. The notion is idealistic, and naive, but it is not hard to recognise the truths that it contains. We might wish to preserve the inequalities of the world so that those at the top of food chains will remain dominant, but there is no need for our greed to exist without compassion. Even when we are determined to have more than others, it is clear that there is enough for everyone, but it seems that we can only think of things in terms of all or nothing, and will continue to wield cruelty where we can.