Theatre Review: Lines

Four men, four beds, four lockers, they all gaze at you as you enter their space, unflinching, unapologetic. It is a space of confrontation, examination and the cold hard reality of an army training

Presented by Theatre Republic
Reviewed 26th October, 2018

Four men, four beds, four lockers, they all gaze at you as you enter their space, unflinching, unapologetic. It is a space of confrontation, examination and the cold hard reality of an army training. It’s neither an ideal armed-services recruitment show nor an indignant call to pacifism. It’s more interesting than either of those two polar opposites.

Pamela Carter’s examination of the progress of four men through their basic training to become soldiers destined to fight in a war zone is raw, gritty and down-right scary for a good card-carrying pacifist. But at the end of this evening of bold and increasingly challenging examination of four lives moved through space and time with the ever-increasing motivation and the heart stopping momentum of fear, combined with brotherhood, it is riveting theatre.

Cory McMahon has a clear eye and the deft capability of confident and talented director. His vision for these four men set on a trajectory of unstoppable consequences is clear, intelligent, and at times inspired, examination of this beautifully written and constructed text. Carter’s writing cleverly intercuts the dialogue between the four men; they sometimes speak in the first person, and sometimes in the third, giving us a window into their inner visions and suppressed emotions. McMahon ensures that his actors maintain a relentless pace, which has the effect of an emotional roller-coaster. By the end of the piece where a trio of them stand stock-still and recount their experiences under fire in a battle, the sheer awfulness defies you to look away.

The four actors have a developed a sixth sense of each other and their ensemble work was as good as any I have witnessed. They have obviously listened and grown with each other to develop such a feeling of mutual respect and trust that they can trust each other to bring to life the story of Lines with such integrity you don’t for one moment get let off the hook. The transference of their stories from internal examination of their feelings to external playing by the rules is seamless and there are some unexpected twists and turns that leave you breathless in their execution as these four talented men drive an unstoppable vehicle that disintegrates into the chaos that forms order and left me in tears at the end of the performance.

The four actors in the piece, Matt Crook, Rashidi Edward, Stuart Fong and James Smith are so cleverly matched in their diversity, and all equipped with a formidable talent and ability to bring a story to life, that there is never a wasted or lost moment in the evening’s performance. All this is carefully balanced on the voice of Renato Musolino as the corporal in charge of the trainees. His ability to manipulate and direct these men without making a physical appearance is a testament to his ability as an actor.

The lighting (Chris Petridis) and sound scape (James Oborn) enhanced this frighteningly real look into the lives of four men propelled into a career in the armed services, and its stark and formal design was a clear metaphor of the bleak environment that is required to dehumanize our warriors. The demanding and exciting physical theatre aspects of the piece were enhanced by Roz Hervey”s energetic and innovative choreography which left the audience breathless after its physical assaults on the audience’s senses.

This play is a salutary reminder that anyone who signs up for military service might just end up in a war zone. Inevitably as we have just witnessed the Invictus games and have been clearly reminded that war creates a new disabled section of our society that have to deal day to day with the effects of being a combatant in a war zone. It requires careful examination and this play poses a multitude of unanswered questions and provokes us to examine our lives, and what we expect of our armed services, in great detail as all good theatre should.

Congratulations Theatre Republic. A thought provoking and beautifully presented piece of theatre. Adelaide should treasure and support you.

Review by Pat. H. Wilson & Adrian Barnes

Venue: Bakehouse Theatre
Season: 24th October – 10th November, 2018
Tickets:  Full Price: $35  Concession: $30

Photo credit: Olivia Zanchetta


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