“Unconventional,” is too clichéd, “Surprises,” is too brash and loud; rather, The Omission of the Coleman Family, has no shortage of… “unexpected elements” – both in and outside of the script. What isn’t unexpected is the presence of a dramaturge (Rodrigo Calderon) in the program, as one of the strengths of the play is in its storytelling.
A charming, visceral, and occasionally violent play, we get to glimpse some of the fortunes of the Coleman family. Held together by their grandmother, the family (her daughter + her grandchildren & their partners), navigate birthdays, love, hospitals, heartbreak, grief, and each-other as best they can.
Despite the generations involved, casting – from the audience at least – appears to have been done on a narrow band of ages. More attention is required to follow the story in the beginning, learning who is who, and how they relate. Granted, this is a necessary task with every play, but it does force the audience to be better listeners and better viewers. As eccentric as the Coleman’s are, we are drawn in.
So much of the play was in the broader strokes of colours and themes: shifting from everyday lighting, establishing people and relationships and conflicts, to a chilling medical green, hushed voices and stolen moments, to a final stark white, emotions bared and broadcast.
Operating with seemingly little filter was one of the brothers, Marito, played by Ange Arabatzis, a heightened style of performance – similar to Adam Driver in Girls – that worked in the context of this solid and unorthodox script. The remaining cast struck a similar tone, unnatural, yet utterly coherent.
Some moments didn’t quite work: A brutal fight between brother and sister lost all danger when broken up, their bodies relaxing too quickly; The final golden spotlight on Marito, looking up in contemplation felt rushed, though still proved a touching coda.
The show is funny and off-kilter, yet there is a degree of universal familiarity – just enough to make you think about phoning home to speak to your mum when you leave the theatre.
The Omission of the Coleman Family
Mechanics Institute, 270 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Performance: Wednesday 12 April 2017 – 8.00pm
Season continues to 22 April 2017
Information and Bookings: www.metanoiatheatre.com
Image: The Omission of the Coleman Family (supplied)
Review: David Collins