Technically speaking, this is not a complex play. However, so crisp and affective is the simplicity of the piece, that anything more would be needlessly complicated. The multi-media, while impressive, mainly consisted of stop- motion line drawings. The play is beautifully soundscaped, allowing for powerful scene transitions, and providing hidden meanings… The dull repetitive undercurrent of the opening scene is less grating on one’s nerves at the end of the play, when it is suddenly given meaning. The set is so minimal, it might not even have been there at all. The real power of this piece is in the words, and the way that they are executed. It is hard not to get swept up in the momentum of the beat poetry, feeling it wash over the crowd, building in energy, only to have it break with a sudden silence.
This 70 minute play manages to explore so many issues, so topical to our modern culture: The compromises that we make for our dreams, the compromises that we ask others to make for us, The responsibility that we take for the choices that we make… But more explicitly, it discusses the problems that exist around homosexuality, religion, political corruption and sectarianism.
Ellams’ play is a story about a struggle of a particular kind. It is based on the struggle of two step-brothers, whose unique situation stems from a turbulent socio-economic system, quite alien to the one that we experience at home. However, as alien as the narrative might be in Australia, it is equally familiar in the recognition and exploration of the humanity that exists within Ellams’ very real characters. They are all superbly written, and his performance of them is so captivating, that one occasionally forgets that there is only one man on the stage.
To paraphrase Ellams own closing words; If you feel strongly about the equality issues being debated in Australia today, please go and see this play. And if you know someone who might benefit from an insight that puts a human face to these issues, and a relatable story behind them, then bring them to this play.
Arts Centre Melbourne in association with Fuel present
Black T-shirt Collection
Written and performed by Inua Ellams
Venue: Fairfax Studio | Arts Centre, Melbourne VIC
Dates: 5 – 10 September 2017