The Culture - Flight Path Theatre (NSW)
Written by Laura Jackson. Original direction by Bethany Caputo. Tour direction by Carly Fisher.
Reviewed by Justin Clarke
Flight Path Theatre, Marrickville Until 20th May
- Gently handled with raw, biting commentary, The Culture is led with grace by its two leads -
Walking over a neatly placed welcome mat, audiences are embraced in the intimacy of Will and Katie’s living room where Laura Jackson’s The Culture awaits to unfold in front of us. With a depth of heart and expertly paced direction, The Culture lures you in with the premise of a modern-day Will & Grace before becoming something much more sinister and extremely prevalent.
The set of The Culture feels adaptive and moveable, perfect for its tour from Broadway to Wellington, Hobart and now, Sydney. Dressed in a comfortable Sydney apartment, Will and Katie’s living room is homely and comfortable with a shared sense of a life they’ve built together since they were high school friends. The use of projections on the back wall fills up the empty spaces untouched by the set to produce text messages and speeches from politics and famous figures either presenting powerful feminism, or damning pieces of misogyny.
Jackson’s gift for naturalism is on show here.
Director, Bethany Caputo, handles Jackson’s script with a tender touch, allowing for the swift one liners from both Will (Mina Asfour) and Katie (Laura Jackson) to establish the depth of their friendship. As the play progresses and Katie falls for a man named Kale - more on that to come - the dangers of falling in love in a modern world are thrown at the audience, allowing social commentary in both the feminist and LGBTQIA+ worlds to bleed through.
Jackson’s script is carefully written, walking a tightrope between being didactic, and wholly relevant and heartfelt. Both Will and Katie’s characters are extremely well written, to the point where the audience could easily have been watching a recording play out. Jackson’s gift for naturalism is on show here. Through harnessing the medium of the podcast, Jackson creates a relatable and comfortable space for the character’s to present monologues, and it’s here we also see and hear them at their most vulnerable.
Social commentary runs rampant in The Culture, with Jackson throwing the personification of toxic masculinity and misogyny onto the character of Kale (who names their son after a lettuce?) whilst also not being afraid to explore the violent issues that women face in Australia today. Some at this very moment even.
Mina Asfour shines in this production
There is an argument that perhaps there are too many comments being made in this play, that some were best left out as to not overload the story and allow the spotlight on each to jump with much more grace and ease.
Mina Asfour shines in this production. Asfour boldly explores each and every corner of Will’s character, with a versatility that is both brazen, hysterical and heartbreaking. He felt entirely natural within the space and developed the believability with Jackson’s Katie to the benefit of the production. Producing silent tears in his character’s lowest parts of the play showed that Asfour is one to watch.
As her own character, Katie, Jackson is outwardly brave and outspoken. There are moments where discussions were had that Katie had moments of satire on the “woke feminists” of today, but Jackson’s journey as Katie was far too crushing for this to wholly be true. Her final monologue (read: podcast) brought her character full circle and was handled gently by Jackson to give her a soft landing.
The Culture is not the first show you’d consider for a touring production, but one that inherently works extremely well, due to both its prevalent, resonating issues, and its slick direction. The natural relationship within its two leads will leave you wanting to go back again and wish that their podcasts were available to be downloaded now.
PLAYWRIGHT Laura Jackson STARRING Laura Jackson Mina Asfour DIRECTOR Bethany Caputo CREATIVE PRODUCER & TOUR DIRECTOR Carly Fisher LIGHTING DESIGNER Capri Harris SOUND DESIGNER Charlotte Leamon STAGE MANAGER Colleen Willis GRAPHIC DESIGNER Brandon Wong
DRAMATURG Catherine Fargher