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All His Beloved Children - KXT Broadway (NSW)

Written by Frieda Lee. Directed by Amelia Burke.


Reviewed by Kate Gaul

KXT Broadway, Ultimo 5th-20th May Tickets: https://www.kingsxtheatre.com/all-his-beloved-children


2 STARS


- A performance that is both shocking as it is visually appealing -


Rated MA - for Mature Audiences: Contains themes and depictions of asphyxiation, death, violence, sex, sexual violence and incest.


In an interview for Theatre Now playwright Frieda Lee describes the importance of her play All His Beloved Children - now playing at Sydney’s KXT - to a contemporary Australian audience: “The play is an illustration of how folklore became mythology, became religion, became law. All round the world our societies have grown out of these violent, twisted, and fantastical shared stories. Until aliens invade and we can unite – humans against green tentacled monsters – we seem to be stuck living in a world where war, violence and hatred grow out of small religious and cultural differences. It’s nothing new, it’s been happening since time immemorial, but it always feels new and fresh.” We are told this is “playful modern myth is a feast full of sex, violence, depravity, and the creator’s first children.”


The production doesn’t have overt religious overtones – although it is the story of two estranged brothers Cain and Habil (played by Tel Benjamin and Sam Hayes respectively) and resonated vaguely with the Biblical Cain and Abel story suggested by their names and relationship. Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus is clearly referenced, as in the production, brother Cain is fed the semen of his nephew, Achimi, in a meal. Achimi later has his hands cut off for masturbating.


The misogyny, and violence against women depicted in the work is troubling to say the least. The male dominated world is presented without a hint of irony (if it was ever intended or even possible). A world where foreskins are cut off in adulthood, mutual masturbation is a rite of passage, incest and coercive physical violence are normalised. The playwright’s intentions here are pushed to the extreme. The production – directed by Amelia Burke – is way shy of grand Guignol and yet I suspect this is the mode in which some of the content of the play would truly shock (in the right way).


Surrounded by a diverse composition for the inter-scene moments (by sound designer Daniel Herten) wasn’t entirely useful. It is all a little too generalised and at best felt like the sound world was from another production.


Played by the entirely silent Kavina Shah,the character Yamuna has drowned and lies on the table. Yamuna comes to life as a ghost and Shah moves with grace and confidence. Her mother, Isis is played by Melissa Gan whose courageous work carries the production. Lucas Radovich plays her son and does so with great charm and has the audience eating out of his hand – well, not literally. You really don’t want to know where that has been! He’s an amusing presence.


Monique Langford creates a winning sandy palette for the costumes. Designer Adrienne Andrews keeps the setting simple with a long table around which the action occurs. At one end of the stage is a horizontally mounted “bed”. The apparatus is hard to control but it kind of works – and there’s a lot that happens under the covers.


The new KXT space is a delight. It gives the illusion of more space, and the stage area has total focus. With a full house you get to know your neighbours well! Long live independent theatre!

 

Director Amelia Burke With Tel Benjamin, Melissa Gan, Sam Hayes, Lukas Radovich & Kavina Shah


KXT is Covid Safe | Latecomers will not be admitted, and refunds are not available for late arrivals Set Designer Adrienne Andrews Costume Designer Monique Langford Sound Designer Daniel Herten Lighting Designer Frankie Clarke Stage Manager Justice Georgeopoulos

Hero Imagery Hayden Relf

Production Photography Phil Erbacher Producer Zoë Hollyoak



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