Patrick Brammall and John Leary

Vital Organs | Easily Distracted & B SharpI’m sitting in traffic, it’s a Thursday evening on my way home from work. On the horizon I can see Centerpoint and the Harbour Bridge, but immediately around me is a swarm of Sydneysiders, drained by their daily duties, intent on returning to the sanctuary of their homes but currently perturbed by the traffic that each one of them is. On the radio, Peach of FBI is interviewing two gentlemen who are talking about their new play ‘Vital Organs’ and the discussion steals my attention. Patrick Brammall and John Leary begin to explain their premise:

There was this guy, who, for many reasons felt a great pain in his life. It was this heavy, indistinct pain that would come and go. He could never quite put his finger on it. But it got to a stage where the pain was there more often than it wasn’t. And he decided he needed to do something about it. He laid out the surgeons’ instruments and disinfected them…

Snapping back to reality, surrounded by immobile automobiles, hundreds of bleary eyed individuals staring through their windscreens looking for something more… there’s something about Brammall and Leary’s story that feels so relevant. The story has a certain beautiful melancholy feel to it, as if Thom York is sitting next to me singing. I hungered to know more of this contemporary fairy tale, which lead me to meet up with Brammall and Leary one other afternoon at Belvoir Street Theatre.

So how does one dramatise on stage the procedure by which a man deconstructs himself with a scalpel, searching for the source of an indistinct pain? How does this dark mythology of the modern man transcend the fourth wall? This is what I put to my two hosts as they sit looking at me through bewildered eyes.

You see the premise for ‘Vital Organs’ began as a throw away idea of Leary’s that was ostracised to the dank pages of a journal, only to be brought back from the edge of obscurity when Brammall and Leary were brainstorming for an idea to submit for the Philip Parsons Award. They were short listed for the award and then the pressure was on to turn Leary’s short story into a stage play. Which they did and collected the Philip Parsons Award along the way. However their approach was a touch on the non-traditional side of things… to say the least.

While both Brammall and Leary contributed to the writing of ‘Vital Organs’, they did so from separate locations, writing the play in dribs and drabs and sending the dissected lines backwards and forwards until the play itself emerged. What one would expect from this process is a noir, poetic, existential exploration of modern vice, ‘Vital Organs’ delivers a light-hearted romp whereby two actors acting as actors attempt to out act one another to prove to the other that their perspective on how to best express to an audience the history of medicine; the search for a solution for that indistinct, yet ever persistent pain.

Vital Organs | Easily Distracted & B Sharp On reviewing the play Stephen Dunne, of the Sydney Morning Herald, bemoaned ‘this attempt to reanimate the old "let's-argue-and-fail-while-putting-on-a-show" show is patchy’ but from talking to the boys themselves and then engaging with their theatre I felt it to be more than this. What begins exactly and Dunne has described it crescendos into a storm of frantic scenes that are both an extension of the original argument and portrayal of it concurrently that leaves the audience asking is ‘Vital Organs’ the story of a man searching for the source of his heavy heart or that of two players trying to explain their quest for originality in a post-modern theatrical environment.

As I drive myself home after the show, droplets of rain on my windscreen diffusing my perspective of the world I feel a little strange. Part of me wanted to see the play I thought I was going to see; a play about a man who was going to take himself apart until he understood why he felt the way he did. At the same time my heart is sated with laughter and smiles. Brammall and Leary don’t deliver what you’d expect, but then if that’s all they did what would keep you coming back for more?


Vital Organs is playing at Belvoir St Theatre until Dec 22 - Event Details | Read Our Review»

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