Theatre Review: Ye Who Enter

A thoughtful new Australian work

Presented by: Back 2 Back Short Show Festival
Reviewed: 23 October, 2022

Star Theatre’s Back 2 Back Festival gives a much-needed platform to newer works by local writers, working with local directors, actors, and other creatives. One of this year’s crop is the short play Ye Who Enter, written by George Djukic.

The son of Serbian migrants, Djukic has pulled together stories of his own family, and those of other migrants to Australia during the 1950s. He has combined these with historical events at Bonegilla Migrant Camp in Wodonga, and created a pastiche of narratives. Four actors play a variety of roles against a simple set.

There is some beautiful writing in this piece, and some nicely crafted characters. However, it is essentially just a series of monologues. Characters do not develop, nor do they interact with each other. When two characters are on stage together, one is just there to listen to the other. The nature of the material is also unrelenting misery. There is so much that the audience just starts to switch off after a while. Djukic needs to learn the rhythm of drama, to allow the more shocking moments to stand out, and to actually shock. There were no laughs, even though “gallows humour” is what gets people through these dark times, and all the characters, although of different backgrounds, were angry men, which makes for a single emotional wash over the whole play.

The cast, consisting of Adam Bullmore, John Rosen, Chris Walsh, and Djukic himself, put in a fine night’s work. Rosen in particular knows how to pull it back in order to make more of an impact, and therefore delivered some of the most poignant moments. Otherwise, there was far too much “this is really dramatic so I have to shout a lot” acting going on. It is unclear who was directing, if anyone.
Ye Who Enter contains some good writing, but it is currently just a series of monologues in search of a narrative. With a strong director, and maybe a dramaturg, this could become a fine and important piece of Australian theatre.

The Back 2 Back Festival, and Ye Who Enter, deserve Adelaide’s support. This is an opportunity for local theatre-makers to showcase their wares and try out new material. And that makes for an exciting and surprising night in the theatre.

Reviewed by: Tracey Korsten

Venue: Star Theatres
Season: Friday 28th October, Sunday 30th October
Duration: 1 hour
Tickets: $30
Bookings: https://www.trybooking.com/events/landing?eid=957450&

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