The Truth About Kookaburras
In a lot of ways, the La Boite Indie season is both the natural inheritor and the latest incarnation of La Boite's almost century-long heritage of being a hotbed for exciting new Australian and Queensland writing. As all things must do though, it has moved with the times and Brisbane audiences can't be more thrilled or have more to get excited about because the geniuses at La Boite are catering not only to our need to view stories that are local and deeply connecting to all of our parochial Queensland and Australian imaginations, but also work that is edgy, engaging, exciting, new, a bit dangerous, a bit weird and very, very cool.
"The Truth About Kookaburras" is a perfect and penultimate example of everything that La Boite is, has been and could be, all that its indie season stands for and a fitting kick off and poster child for the unrivaled brilliance of a viable and worthwhile Brisbane-based theatre industry. It is a play of stunning quality, brave vision, bold artistry, edgy risk taking. It is an unusual piece, hard to grapple with, difficult to understand. It's a Queensland story, its language is one of our time and our place in the world and our people, it's speaking in our voice. And it's cool. Very cool.
Enter the maestro, Sven Swenson, who for some years now has dominated the Queensland playwriting scene. He is the peak and the pinnacle, playwright-laureate of Queensland and he is here, once again, at the absolute top of his game with theatre that speaks both to us and about us in a vivid, sometimes tragic, sometimes hilarious, always poignant way. He has the true artists' gift of being able to look into our culture, to speak about it with us, to educate us about what he sees but we might miss, he has the courage to ridicule the ridiculous, he has the might to traverse the politically, culturally and emotionally difficult. This play is a brilliant page from the times that are the twenty first century Queensland, stark, complicated, brutal, funny and true, this play is part of us and we it. It is nothing less than a supreme achievement.
It is difficult to write about this play in any great detail without giving offense to the spirit in which this play is intended. "The Truth About Kookaburras" is, as its title suggests, about the truth of something and the play, indeed, is about the subject and nature of truth, truths about self, identity, place, belonging, happenings and the gulf that is between what is true and what is fantasy are all explored here. The story is that of a wild night in the changing room of a star AFL team, a night that has ended in a tragic death; and questing for answers are not just the police, but the players themselves. I will not give away much of the story, instead I encourage you to view this for yourself, but what this play is, in essence, is a dissection, layer by layer of the truths and the lies we tell, the reality and the fantasy of our lives.
The big theme here, which takes on numerous meanings and incarnations over the course of the script, is the notion of maleness and of masculinity. In this play, the "truth" of men and of manhood is explored, questioned, at times ridiculed and at other times, celebrated. This is a very deeply affecting play for a male audience and it is of critical importance that men can view this work and discuss it openly. This play probes and probes deeply with ideas of manhood, mateship, men together and men alone and men with women and men in love with other men in a love that takes on various forms. Rarely can you see the extent of male-centric relational drama so fully and so expertly explored, critiqued and discussed. This play belongs alongside Chuck Palahniuk's "Fight Club" , except, in this play, it is Australian masculinity, manhood, mateship, homosociality, homo and heterosexual relations that are on display.
The play is neither critical nor kind, nor idealistic, nor cynical of these things. Instead I feel that this play is intended as a discussion starter, to invite us to find and seek for the truth of ourselves. I for one, left the play with many thoughts buzzing in my head about both the reality and the fantasy of the Australian male identity.
The cast excellent as they take on a difficult and confronting task. Not only are they naked for the vast majority of the play but they also serve as guides and voices of the differing ideas and contesting notions in the Australian male psyche. What is really compelling about this play is its' lack of sterotypical characters and over-the-top performances. Each player and their character are balanced, unique and starkly individual. The cast deliver absolutely realistic and captivating performances in an unorthodox staging about a complicated subject. They are forceful and brilliant.
This is not to be missed. This is the theatre product that Brisbane is hungry for, it is dangerous and it is thought-provoking, but it is also warm and home-grown and uniquely ours. Brisbane should be rightly proud to be home to such a thing as "The Truth About Kookaburras"
Showing at the Roundhouse Theatre until the 23rd of June. Tickets available from http://www.laboite.com.au/01_cms/details.asp?ID=700