Set in an alternate reality at an unspecified time in the future, ‘Skunks’ (asylum seekers) are assisted by sympathisers while black government vans cruise the street and neighbours are encouraged to keep an eye on each other. Sadly this is not necessarily as alternate or futuristic as it should be.
The script is a collaborations between Roger Vickery and James Balian based on Vickery’s short story Matilda. The script won Equal Runner Up for Best Script at the FAW National Literary Awards last year – you can see why. There is a small problem with communicating the language barriers while maintaining a clear idea of country of origin but at no point does the script head towards a clichéd asylum seeker story. ‘Telling a good story’ is given equal footing to ‘sending a message’ and this is why we are engaged in the production to the end. This is a good story, told well.
Rachel Scane‘s set was simply designed and effective. A standard suburban kitchen always felt realistic despite the fact that the entire kitchen probably was larger than many studio apartments in Sydney. Clever design and lighting (Larry Kelly) allowed us to see through the wall into the ‘skunk’ hiding place during the show assisting the furtive feeling of the play.
The script is brought to life by some good tight directing by Travis Green and a team of great actors, each has fleshed out a rounded and detailed character. Peter Condon, Jeannie Gee, Penelope Lee and Amanda Maple-Brown all give solid performances. Standout performances by Brendan Miles and Aanisa Vylet. Miles gave an honest performance showing humility, frustration, determination and a powerful love for his daughter. Vylet, who played his daughter had a wonderful vulnerability and grounded her highly emotional moment in truth, never drifting into histrionics.
This is a great story, with a strong message that will have you thinking about how your views would translate in a world where the tables were turned.
A Nest Of Skunks runs at the Depot Theatre until Saturday 13th August.
Follow the link here to see the interview I did with the writers Roger Vickery and James Balian
Lynden Jones – Talking Arts
A Nest Of Skunks
3 – 13 August 2016
By James Balian & Roger Vickery
Equal Runner Up, Best Script, FAW National Literary awards, 2015.
Collaborations Theatre Group returns with a new Australian play, a dark and sticky thriller about a family of asylum seekers sheltering in a house that proves to be anything but safe.
“…Very original & powerful. Of all the scripts in the season, this is the one I’m most intrigued by…” Julie Baz, Co-Artistic Director, Depot Theatre.
Refugees are “dirty skunks”. Thrown into processing centres, they face deportation at a moment’s notice. Teams scour the country searching for skunks and the ‘handlers’ protecting them. Informers are everywhere. In one night the masks and motivations of skunks and handlers alike are stripped away. The ending will surprise and subvert audience assumptions.
James Balian has a long list of film, television and stage credits as writer and director. Roger Vickery’s work has been published in Australia and overseas. He has won over 60 writing awards.
$5 of every ticket sold for the performances on August 3rd, 7th and 10th will be donated to the Asylum Seekers Centre.