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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | November 19, 2019

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The Flood Review (Anywhere Theatre Festival)

The Flood Review (Anywhere Theatre Festival)
Harry Wallace

It’s that time of year again folks. We are neck deep in the month of theatrical goodness that is the Anywhere Theatre Festival. This time we’re reviewing Flood, an Australian play presented by independent Brisbane Theatre makers; a whirling maelstrom of a production, soaked in tension, emotion, and the energy of a young and talented cast.

The most recent production of Flood is staged on the grass of The University of Queensland’s Great Court, a creative choice with interesting implications given the subject matter of the play. The team behind the production opted for the immersive approach; tents pegged into the grass surrounding a pyre of wood, with the audience positioned as if they could be sitting around the campfire themselves. It’s risky staging any production outside, but in this case the decision was remarkably effective. The intended immersion was achieved, and the tension in the latter half of the play was underscored by the cloudy Autumn skies and wails of curlews off in the distance.

Written by Australian playwright Chris Isaacs, the play itself is a contentious one, and a difficult script to tackle. Debuting in 2014 for the Black Swan Theatre company in Perth, the play has received praise and criticism in relatively equal measure.  The story follows six Anglo-Australian twenty-somethings from Western Australia as they reunite for the quintessential Australian road-trip. While the play is generally acknowledged as a strong character work, it’s true purpose as a commentary piece on Australian race relations has been criticized as slightly reductive and unrealistic. Acknowledging this fact however, the time and place of the production does make it thought provoking; universities are often criticized for fostering white, middle class privilege, so staging Flood in the heart of the biggest uni in the state makes for a poignant statement.

Regardless of the subject matter, the cast and crew have done a commendable job of creating an engaging production. The six actors immersed themselves into there roles with an impressive, frenetic energy. The natural chemistry of the cast makes for an engaging first half of the play, with joyfully juvenile dialogue fired off at a rapid pace. There are multiple genuinely funny moments, and there was definetly something viscerally thrilling about witnessing actress and producer Brie Jurss scream ‘moo you c#nts’ across the quiet university grounds. As the play turns darker in the second half, the cast managed to move artfully with the tone of the script.  Special acknowledgement must go to Brendan Lorenzo for a touchingly emotional performance in the climactic moments of the production. Equal props to Tyler Harlum for being able to bring all the threads together into a satisfying final piece.

Flood is undoubtedly an entertaining and thought provoking addition to this years festival. Make sure to catch it before it closes this Saturday – tickets can be purchased here.