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Review: FACE TO FACE by Playlab Theatre

This production runs at Metro Arts until the 26th of March.

Emily Wells' Face to Face is a thought-provoking drama which, above all, showcases the resilience of First Nations people in a colonial world.

Review: FACE TO FACE by Playlab Theatre

A Playlab Theatre production presented in partnership with Metro Arts, Face to Face is a intimate drama about two First Nations' women navigating the complex issues and effects impacting First Nations community members. These struggles include disconnecting from one's country, police brutality, and receiving criticism from your community and family. A Kamilaroi playwright, Wells creates an authentic dialogue between Maddie (Lorinda Merrypor) and Leila (Hannah Belanszky). Leila is a city-dwelling workaholic who is striving to implement reconciliation plans between big companies. She hasn't contacted her mob in six years. Maddie is Leila's eighteen year old niece who is seeking an escape from the police brutality she experienced firsthand in her community.

Review: FACE TO FACE by Playlab Theatre

Both Merrypor and Belanszky's characters share the same need of wanting a brighter future for their community, despite taking divergent approaches to reach that reality. This difference in approaches creates tension between the characters and launches necessary but confrontational conversations concerning the state of racial conflict in modern Australia. These conversations merge into discussions about how the racial conflict struggles continues to impact both characters in their everyday lives. Two stand out moments in the performance were Merrypor's two monologues, in which the audience sat with the emotion, hurt, and trauma that the character had experienced. When certain truths were revealed, the audience couldn't help but feel the information like a stab in the gut.

Wells' writing really made the audience check their privilege as they took in the play, surrounded by mostly middle class white men, women, and other people that can afford to see a work at a professional theatre. It revealed the underlying 'grey' area that dictates how First Nations people look at themselves, let alone how most of society perceives them.

Face to Face is a powerful and nuanced look at the current place of First Nations people in our world today.

Rating: 4 Stars

Photo Credits: Justine Walpole

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