6 Aug

Fireface could be read as an exploration of some pretty extreme behaviour.

But it spoke to me of a more universal experience – the eternal dialogue between childhood and adulthood.

To the child, adulthood is a foreign land, and the dubious passport into that land is sexuality. You’re a child until you’ve been with a man, mother tells daughter. It’s poor advice, and she takes it.

Her troubled brother is still in puberty. As he’s told. Repeatedly. As though that explains.

He’s a superb portrait of adolescent self righteousness, believing that only he tells the truth. But, in at least one insight, he’s correct – that it’s the adults who define normalcy, who determine what will be considered a proper life.

Children have an understandable dissatisfaction with this narrowness. Adult breath is stale, we are told.

But as the children’s behaviour increasingly becomes a challenge to the adults in the play, mother offers father a poignant paradox; the children are sacrificing themselves for us. It is children who give life to adults.

Photo by Phyllis Wong

Photo by Phyllis Wong

Fireface is a beautifully rich play, and this production is brilliant. The performances are superb and director Luke Rogers’ staging is a joy to watch.

Fireface leaves an audience with a lot to think about, from the extremities it presents to the eternal tensions that fueled them. It’s a cry from that distant land of childhood.

Or to indulge in imagery suggested by the play; it’s as though childhood were a fire, and we leave that fire unattended, in the belief it will simply die down. But it doesn’t, sometimes with catastrophic consequences.

Veronica Kaye

Fireface by Marius Von Mayenburg (translated by Maja Zade)

featuring Darcy Brown, Darcie Irwin-Simpson, James Lugton, Lucy Miller and Ryan Bennett

at ATYP Under the Wharf until 17 Aug

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