AB FACEY’S A FORTUNATE LIFE @ Ace Cinemas gets 8.5/10

AB Facey’s A Fortunate Life @ Ace Cinemas

Friday, August 28, 2020


Theatre-goers are eager to return to their favourite venues after the recent easing of restrictions, and the rebirth of live performance brings with it renewed passion and conviction. Perth group Theatre 180 have returned with their immaculate adaptation of AB Facey’s A Fortunate Life. Based on the autobiography of Albert Facey, a true-blue Aussie battler who exhibited fortitude in the face of extreme adversity, yet at the end of it all chose to focus on the many blessings of a fortunate life.

A movie theatre is an unusual location for a live play. Still, in the case of Theatre 180, it is an integral part of their vision for storytelling. In place of the usual pre-movie trailer segment, the screen filled with cinematic footage of sweeping Australian landscapes and native flora close-ups. The accompaniment of a wild bush soundtrack of chirping birds and the soothing hush of wind was the perfect way to prepare the arriving audience for the setting of the historic journey.

Benj D’Addario, Rebecca Davis and Michael Abercromby, who form the entire cast of three, are seasoned professionals with an impressive collective resume. The two-hour performance was carried equally between them as they seamlessly re-enacted the life of Albert Facey. D’Addario and Abercromby’s female impersonation was fun, as they donned frocks and wide-brimmed hats as girls and women of all ages and swiftly swapped out costume pieces to instantly morph into entirely different personas.

Despite her tall, elegant frame, Davis was an adorable little Bert as a child in 1890s Victoria, while Abercromby performed the role of adult Facey to determine action in the present or relive the past. Facey’s life followed across to the vast, deserted bush of Western Australia as he learnt some very tough lessons on manhood, facing abandonment, rejection, slavery, and death. Despite this, Facey had the endurance to push through and create a better reality and his life is an inspiring message to spur on and encourage audience members of all generations, at a time this message is desperately needed.

The methods of performance were cleverly devised to create continuity. With minimalistic cast, staging, props, and costumes, actors transformed into an array of characters, genders, and ages. The three had remarkable chemistry which shone through in the way they supported one another, proving that being as one to honour the story holds priority over individual accolades. Screen motion and surround sound were used in conjunction with simple stage movement to make a dramatic impact, immersing the crowd in the action. The screen element provided life-sized backdrop images of landmarks, homes, and maps marking the vast expanse of our hero’s journey.

Bert’s reminiscing on his pathway from childhood to being an old man took the audience through tearful moments coloured with hilarious larrikinism. Fortitude, persistence, ingenuity, courage, integrity, and modesty are powerful words used aptly to describe the life honoured so thoughtfully in this production. The audience is encouraged that no matter how tough life can appear, there is always opportunity for great things to emerge. Tragedy is inevitable, but how we allow circumstances to transform us is our choice.

This is a story that anyone who calls Australia home will enjoy.  In a time where there seems to be a global shortage of hope, this message needs to be told. There is always hope to be found if we choose to believe we live a fortunate life.