BECOME THE ONE
A Review by Jeff Hockley
IO Performance, 17 July 2021
Become the One is an excellent example of contemporary Australian theatre, and
IO Performance once again confirms its place in the local contemporary theatre
scene by presenting it. Written by Adam Fawcett the play features two vibrant
queer characters, and explores same-sex partner relationships in the context of
high-profile professional athletes. As Fawcett says, what if the partner, not the
athlete, became the driving force behind dismantling the last bastion of
heteronormative masculinity in Australian sport? What might they – and that
journey – look like?
So, what does it take to become the one? For a start, it needs an insightful
director in Daniel Story, and a strong cast, and IO deliver both. Travis Hennessy
is the nerdy and openly gay Noah, and Leigh Oswin is the star athlete and
closeted Tom. These polar opposites perfectly deliver Fawcett’s witty, bitchy and
often emotional script, and had the audience in fits of laughter or reaching for
their tissues as their relationship and circumstances developed over time.
Oswin’s over-the-top wide-eyed macho posturing at the start of the show was a
worry, but it was all an act which settled down as events progressed to reveal the
vulnerable soul within, as guilt, social norms and the heavy hand of the football
code took its toll. It was an impressive transformation.
Travis Hennessy’s Noah had an easier road to travel, starting out inhabiting a
comfortable persona but always questioning his life choices and where his
relationship with Tom was going. He handled the situations well, with street-
smart dialogue, and held his ground with a strong focus.
Daniel Story’s staging on a well-designed simple set worked well except for the
occasional ‘stand and deliver’ moments when the actors could have been more
engaged. That said, Story certainly knew how to bring out all the nuances of the
script, particularly when referencing all those people in the LGBTQI community
who are under the radar, as the script infers.
Fawcett’s play celebrates difference, uses contrasting characters to call for
bravery in a socially disfunctioning world, and examines what it takes to do the
right thing as a lover, a star, and a human being. IO Performance has assembled
all the elements required to make the message of ‘become the one’ abundantly
& HARD TO SEE
Review by Jeff Hockley
VERY STILL AND HARD TO SEE
IO Performance has once again delivered the ‘wow’ factor in presenting Steve Yockey’s eerie play full of characters drawn from Japanese folklore and mythology.
Very Still and Hard to See, doesn’t really require background reading before seeing it and the scenes as presented are not that difficult to follow, but director Caitlin McCarthy supplies a comprehensive program intro anyway, which delves much deeper into the play and the supernatural themes within it.
She delves very deeply into the characters in the play as well and therein lies the key to the success of the performance.
The casting is excellent, which is just as well since there are a lot of demands on the actors. It was so good to see committed acting for a change, with strong characterisations from all the cast, who play multiple roles throughout. The ensemble work was especially pleasing, and it was so nice to hear some daring voice work at a heightened level. There’s a lot of physical theatre technique in the story-telling, and all the cast seem to revel in the rawness of their eerie, comic or heartbreaking moments.
McCarthy has used ‘spider’ as a metaphor, cleverly realized in the web-like structure of the set, masterfully lit as always by Chris Jackson. The costume design by Grace Roberts supports the vision very well by using a tangled collection of detritus to clothe the actors in recognisable but neutral shapes, perfect for the absurd nature of the play.
I am not a great fan of background music during plays, a cross-over from television which has been creeping insidiously into theatre of late. However the sound design for this show adds much to the audience’s experience, and the effect of the perfectly chosen soundscape is sometimes quite terrifying.
The play is a reminder that sometimes bad things do happen for a reason. Good things, like this play, happen because IO are committed to making them happen.