Left - Mark Diaco. Cover - Mark Diaco & Lee Mason
The Late Henry Moss depicts two estranged brothers, Earl (Lee Mason) and Ray (Mark Diaco), who come together after the death of their father, the titular character (Bruce Kerr). The play is classic Sam Shepherd and incorporates elements familiar to much of his work: a mid-western setting, a volatile relationship between brothers, the echoing sins of parental figures. As the brothers retrace their father’s last days,thrown into the mix are his girlfriend (Marcella Russo), a taxi driver (Justin Hosking) and neighbour (Alex Pinder) who help to excavate the horrors of the past.
This was my first experience of Human Sacrifice Theatre and I was undeniably impressed. The ensemble is stunning and whilst it would be unfair to single any of them out, Mason and Diaco embody their characters completely and allow the world of the play to come alive (it has to be noted that the accent work is particularly fine). Diaco has a languid presence and gives a slow-burning performance that is transfixing to watch. Mason, on the other hand, is like a tightly-coiled fist, ready to burst at any moment. Together, they allow Shepherd’s words to spring off the page and into this other-worldly New Mexico. Every other character is given moments to shine in the The Late Henry Moss without upsetting the balance of the relationship between the brothers. The strong patriarchal figure echoes King Lear and Long Day’s Journey Into Night and allows us a psychological insight into why the brothers have such tension between one another.
David Myles ably directs the play, which could easily suffer from being “too talky”, and brings a steady hand to the piece, allowing it to flow smoothly whilst still being alive and surprising. I got a great sense that Myles understands this piece so well, so he is confident in knowing when to let it breathe and when to take control. Lucas Silva Myles’ lighting is perfectly unobtrusive and the live music of Richie Brownlee is well-suited in its sparse, portentous tones. Although this is a world that is unfamiliar to me, the strong technical elements allowed me to experience the world, rather than be outside of it.
This is a wonderful achievement for Human Sacrifice Theatre and once again proves that it is the independent companies that keep the Melbourne theatre heartbeat pumping.
Human Sacrifice Theatre present
The Late Henry Moss
By Sam Shepherd
Venue: Chapel Off Chapel | 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran (Melways: Map 2L Ref J10)
Dates: 10 – 27 July
Times: Thurs – Sat 8pm, Sun 6pm
Tickets: $27 Full, $23 Con (+bf)
Bookings: 03 8290 7000 or www.chapeloffchapel.com.au