Elegy is not an easy piece of theatre to sit through. It's not meant to be. Elegy is there to inform some and remind others that what we in our privileged society take for granted (our freedom and the right to live our lives as we are) is something that many in our world will be killed for or forced to flee.
The plight of refugees is now well documented on our news and many of their stories have been told. Elegy seeks to briefly shine a light on the stories that don't make the evening bulletins. Refugees who are forced to suffer because of their sexuality.
Inspired by interviews with gay Iraqi refugees who fled their homeland, Douglas Rintoul wrote Elegy for Transport Theatre in England.
Featuring a single actor on a minimilist set, Elegy is essentially a monologue, comprising the scattered recollections of a young man coming to terms with who he is, and the life that he left behind, but will never forget.
It is about hiding one's sexuality, even from those closest to you, and the brutality that some have endured.
Elegy is short in length – less than an hour. But it's long enough to get a clear image of what life is like in repressed regimes.
Nick Simpson-Deeks is the story-teller here, and while it does seem a little strange to have a white anglo-saxon young man speaking the lines, it works up to a point. One is left wondering however, if it would have been more effective, and more emotional, to have someone of a middle-eastern background as the performer.
John Kachoyan directs the piece as a fairly straight-forward narrative, never allowing Simpson-Deeks to become too emotional in the role, illuminating the text.
What strengthens this production is the Sound Design by Russell Goldsmith and an effective lighting design by Rob Sowinski. Both these elements contribute to giving the piece a reality and at times a documentary feel.
This Australian premiere season should be welcomed as an opportunty to see a serious work that at the very least will leave some impression on its audience and hopefully cause you to think and discuss the plight of those less fortunate.
Gasworks is also showcasing a free exhibition of some of Bradley Secker's photographs. Secker is an award-winning photo journalist who has documented the stories of many LGBTIQ refugees in the Middle East and Europe. His work inspired Elegy.
Lab Kelpie in association with GASWORKS presents
by Douglas Rintoul
Director John Kachoyan
Venue: Studio Theatre | Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham Street, Albert Park
Dates: 19 January – 6 February 2016
Tickets: $25.00 – $20.00