“HIR”, is pitched with “Summer of the Seventeen Doll” by Black Swan as part of “the boys are back in town” conversation. This new American play by Taylor Mac is guaranteed to start repartee and debate about the new paradigms of gender identity.
“HIR”, a gender-neutral pronoun of “his “and “hers” and pronounced “here” is set in the suburbs of central California. The boy is this production is Isaac (Will O’Mahony) returning home from a tour of Afghanistan after being dishonourably discharged from the Marine Corps for drug use. He finds the home he left irrevocably changed. His father, Arnold (Igor Sas), has been sacked from his long standing job and subsequently suffered a debilitating stroke. His mother Paige, (Toni Scanlan), now free from the abuse inflicted by her husband has embraced her role as the family matriarch. Paige has liberated herself from domestic duties and has taken up with gusto the new study of gender diversity. Finally there is Isaac’s sister Max (Jack Palit) who is now his brother!
Naturally, Isaac is a little bewildered and perturbed by these developments “Why didn’t you tell me?” he asks his mother. Paige replies “You never called”. “I was in a war zone Mom!” he declares.
The Director, Zoe Pepper takes us on a funny, comic and emotional journey, in what she calls “a reinvented kitchen sink family drama”. The family’s foibles are revealed with bitingly clever wit and heart wrenching drama. There is a touch of farce, literally over the kitchen sink, thrown in as well.
All of the actors give engaging performances. Jack Palit, in his debut with Black Swan, obviously lacks the experience of his fellow cast members, but nevertheless brings sensitivity and humour to his role as a teenager dealing with sexual identity.
The set by Tyler Hill and costumes by Tarryn Gill, props evidently gathered from the Balcatta Recycling Shop are perfect to highlight the dysfunctional structure of the family and their current lifestyle. Lighting by Lucy Birkinshaw and sound by Brett Smith compliment the staging.
CAST: Will O’Mahony, Jack Palit, Igor Sas, Toni Scanlan
DIRECTOR: Zoe Pepper
SET DESIGNER: Tyler Hill; COSTUME DESIGNER: Tarryn Hill, COMPOSER/SOUND DESIGNER: Brett Smith; LIGHTING DESIGNER: Lucy Birkinshaw,
FIGHT DIRECTOR: Andy Fraser, VOICE & DIALECT COACH: Luzita Fereday
Photo credit Daniel James Grant