That roughness isn’t neatly contained either, pieces of corrugated iron scattering from the stage up and over the audience’s heads. Indeed, Max would be right at home here, having a drink among the dust and the metal and a family doing whatever it takes to survive.
The family is led by Helen, played by Brigid Gallacher. Brigid was fantastic, Helen the only character with thoughts of the larger community – not resistance, but recovery. Dion Mills as Brigid’s father, Stewart, gave a lovely performance of a man struggling to contain festering guilt and rage, while trying to protect his friends and loved ones.
Kevin Hofbauer as Ryan, friend to the family, was a little quiet in the beginning, but soon warmed up. He navigated well a character whose motives are uneasily becoming selfish. Claire, neighbour and co-conspirator, was played by Olga Makeeva. As the story progresses, Claire should personify the futility of hope, but instead maintains a strong sense of dignity and defiance.
Rory Kelly was Fyfe, a government inspector, who looked like he would be right at home torturing Winston Smith in 1984. Rory did splendid work, exhibiting the same charismatic lethality as Neil Gaiman’s Corinthian. Sahil Saluja played Harry, a man who knows how to get things. Harry’s journey – from his first benevolent moments to his final desperate ones – was compelling, leading to the play’s emotionally brutal conclusion.
Josephine Collins’ script was excellent for the most part in its balancing act of revealing exposition while still driving the story forward. Director Penny Harpham has made with her cast and crew, a lean gritty drama that deserves a glass raised to it (second from the left).
The Way Out
Red Stitch Theatre, Rear 2 Chapel Street, St Kilda
Performance: Wednesday 30 August 2017 – 8.00pm
Season continues to 24 September 2017
Information and Bookings: www.redstitch.net
Image: Ensemble of The Way Out – photo by Teresa Noble
Review: David Collins