BWW REVIEW: BOY OUT OF THE COUNTRY Captures The Personal Cost Of Progress In A World Of Developers Devoid Of Care For Communities
Wednesday 15th May 2019, 7:30pm, Bondi Pavilion Theatre
Felix Nobis' BOY OUT OF THE COUNTRY expresses of the degradation of the community and culture of Australia's regional towns in the name of progress and capitalism. Focusing on the personal level, this piece directed by Erica Lovell has a natural Australian feel as it presents a problem that has faced, and is continuing to face, rural and regional communities.
Presented with a blend of naturalistic speech and subtle poetry, BOY OUT OF THE COUNTRY sees younger brother Hunter (Tom Harwood) returning after 7 years to the house of his childhood only to find that his mother Margaret (Jeannie Gee) has been moved on to a retirement home and the property in the process of being sold to developers. On discovering that big brother Gordon (Jason Glover) is behind the sale, local policeman Walker (Stan Kouros) has to intervene on yet another brawl between the boys. It is at this point that the audience meets the obnoxious snobbish art collector and the wandering misfit. Family history, sibling rivalry, aspirational objectives, selfishness and opportunistic manipulation all come out of the woodwork as secrets are unearthed and the family bonds are tested to breaking point.
Harwood's performance as Hunter is well formed, delivering an honest presentation that expresses a good connection between the performer and character, so everything feels innate. Glover's expression of the obnoxious Gordon is a more heightened portrayal making sure that the audience sides with Hunter's viewpoint. Amelia Robertson-Cuninghame's portrayal of Gordon's wife Rachel is a touch too over-directed, even considering that Rachel, like her husband, is opportunistic in her quest to appear to be better as she also choose Gordon's ability to make money over Hunter's honest affection. Jeannie Gee's presentation of the elderly mother Margaret ensures that it is clear that Gordon has brainwashed her, and Gee manages the often thin character detail well. As Walker, Stan Kouros ads a degree of comedy to the work whilst also providing the voice of the community to the family-centric story.
Holding a continued relevance in a society of greed and manipulation, BOY OUT OF THE COUNTRY seeks to have people consider the price of progress as treeless estates of concrete and bricks take over the open spaces. While the overall issue of progress is not new, it is refreshing to see an Australian story presented with Australian voices, helping to connect the work to our own back yard.