Heroin(e) For Breakfast – Fringe

Heroine for BreakfastPresented by Holden Street Theatres & Horizon Arts Ltd in Assoc. with Richard Jordan Productions Ltd & Ralph Dartford Associates.

The Studio, Holden Street Theatres, Holden Street, Hindmarsh

Reviewed Wednesday February 17th 2010 (See Fringe guide for dates, times, etc.) or 1300 FRINGE (374 643)

Bookings: Fringetix & Venuetix outlets

Written and directed by Philip Stokes, this is rated for people aged over 16, and it is certainly not for the terminally sensitive. It is a harsh, gritty look at three British people in their early to mid twenties; Tommy, his flatmate Chloe and his girlfriend Edie. As the play opens we discover Tommy and Edie half asleep on the settee, waking and indulging is some frenetic sexual endeavours. The ‘fast-forward’ approach to their lust satiation generates plenty of laughs. A short blackout, and now Chloe is asleep on the settee when Tommy enters, engaging in less than friendly conversation with her. He is followed shortly after by Edie. He goes shopping and we see that the two girls do not get along with one another, either. The dialogue is thick with expletives. He returns with a bag of consumables and announces that the heroin is on its way.

It arrives, to the thunder of the theme from Futurama and a cloud of smoke, in the form of an American, looking remarkably like Marilyn Monroe. Reality suddenly becomes surreality. The class A drug is given a human physical form and a personality and we see how it/she interacts with the three addicts.

Tommy often steps out from the action, breaks the fourth wall and directly addresses the audience, deconstructing the play and evaluating theatrical conventions. Heroine, too, addresses the audience from time to time. The black comedy gives way to tragedy and Heroine takes control of all three. This play defies all conventions and insists on the audience expanding their individual and collective understandings of what is meant by theatre.

Kate Daley (Edie), Kirsty Green (Chloe), Craig McArdle (Tommy) and Hayley Shillito (Heroine) each give strong individual performances, but this is also an ensemble piece. These four frighteningly convincing performers present characterisations that cannot fail to take you on their journey into a badly distorted and fractured Britain, where it becomes possible to see how Tommy can visualise himself as a modern Messiah, putting the Great back into Britain with the aid of heroin. Ultimately, of course, we all know that the premises of his arguments are as tenuous as his grip on reality, whatever that is.

Marie Dalton’s lighting plot is complex, working closely with the convoluted script and complementing the deceptively basic set design of Craig Lomas. Holden Street Theatres created an Edinburgh Fringe award and this is the production that won it last year. It is easy to se why. A challenging script that breaks with tradition, insightful direction and powerful performances make this a production that will stay with you for a long time.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, GLAM Adelaide Arts Editor.

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