American playwright Clare Barron is known for her heightened, hyper realistic plays in which ordinary interactions threaten to turn extreme or absurd – this description sits comfortably with Red Stitch’s latest offering, You Got Older. A play inspired by Barron’s own father’s illness, You Got Older is about a young woman returning home to care for her father, after learning he has a rare and aggressive cancer. Sleeping in the room next to him, Mae finds her fearful imaginings for his future shoved aside by wild sexual fantasies involving a mysterious cowboy.
The play is directed by Brett Cousins and features Lee Beckhurst, Emily Goddard, Francis Greenslade, Penny Harpham, Eva Seymour and Mark Yeates.
16th Street Graduate, Lee Beckhurst, plays Mac, a guy in his 30s who has lived in a town in Washington State his whole life. He went to school with Mae and happens to run into her at a bar at a particularly precarious point in her life. Mac has a big heart but is a lonely guy. “What makes him so likeable is he is always honest,” says Beckhurst. “Sometimes too honest but it always comes from a good place.”
You Got Older is a black comedy addressing issues of faith, loyalty and conversations that should be had. Says Beckhurst: “I read a review that said the play “captures avoidance: it’s about the denial of death and the denial of living” and I think that’s a remarkable way to describe it. There are things we should talk about more often but we don’t. The dialogue is just superb. Great writing often encapsulates what’s not being said as well as what is and Clare Barron has been able to achieve that.”
Beckhurst believes the beauty of the play is how relatable it is. “Your 20s and 30s are a particularly tricky period of your life,” he says. “You’re expected to know exactly who you are and quite often we don’t find it until a bit later due to a collision of events and we get to explore that through Mae’s (the protagonist) journey.”
Beckhurst has featured in TV series such as ‘Offspring’, ‘House Husbands’, ‘The Ex Pm’ and as Edward Tyneman in ‘Dr Blake Mysteries’. In 2013, he also played Glenn Sprague in Revolt Theatre’s ‘The Boys’ and Cliff in La Mama’s Fringe show ‘The Woolgatherer’ directed by Kerry Armstrong. But as far as which medium he prefers, he admits to sitting on the fence a little.
“I’ve had more TV experience and I really love it as a medium but there’s no buzz quite like being on stage. There’s no second take and that’s pretty thrilling to participate in and to watch. Forgetting lines makes me wish someone could yell “cut!” sometimes though! I tend to enjoy both. I find if I’ve been engaged in something that’s mainly drama then I crave a comedic character and vice versa. I just want to play fascinating characters in captivating pieces of writing regardless of the medium or style.”
Red Stitch has secured the Australian Premiere of You Got Older – a brilliant play about how you get through when your life is spinning out of control. It’s also about connection and disconnection with the people in your life and everybody can relate to that.
“If you want to see a wonderfully directed show with an exceptional cast that is funny and touching, I think this is one you shouldn’t miss,” says Beckhurst.
August 31 – October 2