Review: Home (Tantrum Youth Arts)

Venue: PACT Centre for Emerging Artists (Erskineville NSW), Oct 4 – 7, 2017
Director: Janie Gibson
Cast: Sara Barlow, Thomas Lonsdale, Roger Ly, Alexandra Mangano, Meghan Mills, Meg O’Hara, Taylor Reece, Stephanie Rochet, Rosie Scanlan, Clare Todorovitch, Phoebe Turnbull
Image by Eryn Leggatt

Theatre review
The point of departure is a meditation on home, a concept that we associate with all things secure, warm and familiar, but the 11 artists delve deep within, to unearth instead, many unexpected and troubling aspects of living in Australia today.

The piece begins predictably, perhaps too innocently, about the planet and its natural environment, with seen-it-all-before physical configurations, typical of theatre featuring ensembles of young people. After some warming up, director Janie Gibson takes us to the deep end, where pretence gives way to raw honesty, and the real drama happens.

Home‘s collation of words by various entities (with dramaturgy by Lucy Shepherd), is a remarkable achievement, showcasing a valuable range of perspectives that form a truthful and timely representation of where we are today, as a society and a collective consciousness.

Alexandra Rose talks poetically about the idea of body as home, Phoebe Turnbull speaks boldly for new feminists everywhere, Roger Ly articulates with great humour, the historical experience of our many marginalised ethnic minorities, and Meg O’Hara is blinding with her infectious passion as a queer activist. There is a lot of power in Home, derived from very serious and exquisite thought.

Art scintillates when brave and authentic, and there is much to be excited about here. Also very noteworthy is the live music accompaniment by Huw Jones, whose electronica underscores the entire show with intelligence, and beautiful sensitivity. Quality of acting in the group is inconsistent, but Stephanie Rochet-Cuevas’ brilliance as performer is unequivocal, presenting a “star is born” moment on the Sydney stage, having recently arrived from Chile, via Newcastle. She is formidable, a force to be reckoned with, and a personality one sincerely hopes to see grace our theatres again soon, and often.

Home is where we should be able to find comfort. It is also where we are safest and most able to confront the darkest of our beings. In bringing their audience their most authentic vulnerabilities, the artists compel us to connect, with the work and with each other. Enclosed and tethered, we think about the spaces we share, and the inevitability of our dependence on each other, and the care, that increasingly, we forget to take.

www.tantrum.org.au