Heroin(e) For Breakfast is set in a British flat, where the main objectives of its residents are sex, day-time television, and above all else, heroin. Black comedy, “but not in a racist way”, the humor in the piece eventually fades away into a story of total destruction. While the essence of the humour remains throughout much of the play, the final product is a confronting and harrowing story about the transition of heroin from a romantic ideal to an addictive and destructive reality.
Written and directed by Phlip Stokes, Heroin(e) for Breakfast starts as a traditionally framed theater show, with Tommy (Craig McArdle) sharing a flat with roommate Chloe (Kirsty Green) and girlfriend Edie (Kate Daley). The fourth wall is quickly broken, however, as the audience is asked what they are doing in Tommy’s apartment. This begins a continual reference to theatrical devices used in the show, and is a good introduction to the biggest device used: rather than using a literal prop to represent heroin, Heroin (Hayley Shillito) instead becomes the fabulous Marilyn Monroe. This interesting and clever device only serves to highlight the destruction and fall brought along by the heroin.
The cast is excellent, all giving brilliant performances and showing distinct development in their characters over the two halves of the play. Confronting and unsympathetic characters and situations will not appeal to all audience members, but the emotion given by the actors is never less than sublime.
Marie Dalton, who uses the lights to draw focus and emotion to the story, lights a simple set by Craig Lomas to great effect. While occasionally actors stepped out of their light, for the most part the lighting was effective in helping to tell the story and transitions from a traditional play to the characters communicating with the audience, and highlighting the ecstasy of when Heroine is still a romantic ideal.
Not wanting the audience to relax while watching the production, towards the final moments of the play, Chloe and Edie yell at the audience “Why are you just sitting there? Do something!” and it feels as though Stokes is using this play almost as a call-to-arms, but he doesn’t present any information or ideas on what to do, so the intent behind that moment is almost lost.
As winner of the Holden Street Theatres Edinburgh Award, Heroin(e) for Breakfast was brought to the Adelaide Fringe to showcase to local artists the best of new and innovative theatre being presented internationally. Stokes’s script and direction takes risks in an unpleasant subject, but those risks ultimately pay off in a wonderfully provoking, if not completely soul destroying, production which makes for compulsive viewing.
Presented by HST & Horizon Arts Ltd in association with Richard Jordan Productions Ltd and Ralph Dartford Associates
Heroin(e) for Breakfast
by Philip Stokes
Directed by Phlip Stokes
Venue: The Studio | 34 Holden Street Hindmarsh
Dates/Times: 16-18, 20, 22-27 Feb @ 9.00pm; Feb 21 @ 7.30pm, 28 Feb, 6 March @ 4.00pm; 2-6 March, 8-14 March @ 7.45pm
Tickets: $20.00 - $25.00
Bookings: adelaidefringe.com.au and at the door.