Good Little Soldier @ Subiaco Arts Centre
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
A collaborative piece of physical theatre, this production successfully merges genres to capture a side to war rarely truthfully represented. The masterful juxtaposition of living through serving in the armed forces and adjusting to civilian family life, demonstrates the struggle of so many veterans trying to reconcile the trauma of service, with the realities of returning home.
The story starts as the father departs for war, leaving his son and wife illuminated by a stark spotlight. Gunshots ring out from behind the audience as emotive wartime photojournalistic images flash onto their faces and the corrugated iron backdrop. A sense of separation, isolation and confrontation set the scene for the story to unfold as the soldier returns and struggles to cope with flashbacks, ghosts, relationships and routine.
A thought provoking and at times visceral experience, the commanding use of sound, light and movement allows the audience to understand the confusion, conflict and desolation PTSD sufferers experience and see how this impacts their family and home life. Each member of the family is shown to wear the scars of the trauma suffered by the soldier in different ways. The wife, despondent then raging, then suffocating. The son abused or ignored, yet hungry for attention and affection. The soldier dogged by a relentless apparition, on a never-ending rollercoaster of emotional shock. Each artist’s portrayal of these difficult, contrasting, raw elements was inspired, considered and powerful.
A small cast usually featuring five artists, the night the production was reviewed, revered Indigenous dancer and actor Ian Wilkes was unfortunately unable to perform due to illness. Dramaturg, Phil Thomson, explained after the show that the four remaining cast members, Gavin Webber, Grayson Willwood, Raewyn Hill and Otto Kosok, had reworked the piece that day to ensure the audience wasn’t disappointed. Their hard work paid off as there was no indication that something was missing or unfinished.
This is a perfect example of how artist driven collaborative productions often excel and over-deliver. It was clear from the opening scene that each artist was fully invested in the production, which resulted in a passionate, heartfelt and artful performance from each. This provided an inclusive experience for the audience as they opened their mind to the struggles of those affected by war.
This intelligent and insightful production is an important part of the discussion surrounding PTSD and mental health issues. Despite the dark subject, the viewer actually doesn’t end the show feeling depressed, but instead leaves enlightened about this issue and perhaps a little more inclined towards involvement in supporting sufferers and showing compassion for those affected.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to see this production as Good Little Soldier runs for the last few days at the Subiaco Arts Centre this weekend.
SARAH PRICE TWIST
Photos by Peter Tea