And No More Shall We Part | GriffinLeft – Linda Cropper and Russell Kiefel. Photos – Brett Boardman

When the emotional denouement came towards the end of the Griffin Theatre Company’s production of And No More Shall We Part, it was gut-wrenching. There was a collective outpouring with almost everyone, women and men, simultaneously wiping away tears. If you want light entertainment, this play is not for you. But if you want raw, confronting material, beautifully directed and acted, then don’t walk, run.

Staged at the intimate The Stables at Kings Cross, And No More Shall We Part has put a controversial subject front and centre at a time when euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke has reignited a national debate. He plans to import the so-called suicide drug Nembutal by exploiting a legal loophole. Fortuitous timing perhaps, but this is where art can challenge the national psyche, asking us to go to dark places whether we want to or not.

The work, by award-winning Australian playwright Tom Holloway, delivers a devastating look at the lives of two people desperately dealing with life and death decisions while negotiating the frightening legal and ethical minefield of assisted suicide. Holloway’s dialogue is natural and familiar and allows the material to resonate. The production sees Holloway reunited with Griffin’s Artistic Director Sam Strong, whose previous collaboration Red Sky Morning won the Green Room Award for Best New Australian Writing for the Stage in 2008.

This is not a comfortable play to watch, provoking a response almost from the opening lines and posing questions that will stay long after the final scene. How would you react if your loved one asked you to help them to die? The two-hander is performed by talented and experienced actors in Russell Kiefel and Linda Cropper. Cropper currently appears in Channel Ten’s Offspring while Kiefel recently appeared in the Foxtel series Spirited. Both have a long list of accomplishments. The audience was immediately drawn to Kiefel’s Don, a knockabout bloke wrestling with heart-breaking decisions. His performance was believable and affecting. On the other hand, Cropper’s Pam was prickly and not very likeable and stretched the sympathy of the audience. However, in the end, her performance was masterfully measured, the emotional reveal being all the more powerful for it. The simple set comprising a single bed with a retro kitchen behind, played its’ understated part in ramping up the gravitas of the material.

This is a deeply moving play, exploring a difficult subject, and Holloway deserves praise for inviting us to think about the implications for us all.

Griffin presents
by Tom Holloway

Director Sam Strong

Venue: SBW Stables Theatre, 10 Nimrod St, Kings Cross
Dates: 4 August – 3 September, 2011
Times: Monday – Saturday @ 7pm, Saturday matinee @ 2pm
Tickets: Full $47 | Concession/Preview/Matinee $34
Bookings: 02 8019 0292 |

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