The play is based on a real detention facility for boys 10-20, near Port Arthur in the 1800s. It focuses on an imagined tight group of inmates and how things change when a new lad arrives and is forced to join them.
It’s a slightly unfortunate space in the Spiegeltent, but the cast navigated it well. Despite having to run up and down stairs to get to and from the wings, they kept a good pace. Admittedly, the piece did get too declamatory in places, and the characters’ penchant for shoving and lapel-grabbing needed tempering, but each of the cast showed great physical commitment and worked excellently together.
William Farnsworth played the new fish, Jeremiah. William charting an agreeable course for the audience to follow as Jeremiah goes from being spurned by the group to becoming one of them. Jeremy Withers was suitably simple in some ways as the sickly Ardy, presently nicely a sympathetic character who may not be wielding one of the larger intellects, but certainly has one of the larger hearts.
Alex Roe was tremendous in the role of Bones, giving a compelling, grounded performance of a complicated man who’s main talents (besides theft) are brutality and cunning.
Will McDonald did terrific work as Red, the group’s leader. In the earlier version of the play, Red came across very hard on his boys, meaning later emotional moments between them felt unearned. Here though, Will’s performance is pitched just right, showing a firm leader whose displays of toughness are ultimately about survival for all of his boys and not just himself.
However, in terms of dealing with issues of trauma and compassion, the boys’ guard, Hawkins, has the most to wrestle with. Phil Cameron-Smith gave a brilliant performance as Hawkins, a dark, percussive character trying to survive as much as his charges are.
Point of No Return is a lovely piece of short drama that deserves support as it continues its Victorian tour.
Point of No Return
The Melba Spiegeltent, 35 Johnston Street, Collingwood
Performance: Wednesday 1 August 2018 – 8.00pm
Season continues to 11 August 2018
Frankston Arts Centre, 27 Davey Street, Frankston
Performance: Friday 17 August 2018
For more information, visit: www.pointonr.com for details.
Image: Alex Rose, Jeremy Withers, Will McDonald and William Farnsworth feature in Point of No Return – photo by Imran Abul Kashem (Westend Photography)
Review: David Collins