Tag Archives: Luke Rogers


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


The Pillowman

23 Mar

It’s funny what we’ll laugh at. Context has a lot to do with it. I usually don’t find torture and the murder of children especially amusing.

But in the context of a finely produced, thought provoking play, I apparently do.

Director Luke Rogers’ production of Martin McDonagh’s play is a top night of theatre. The cast is uniformly excellent.

The Pillowman promo Web (1)

The Pillowman explores storytelling. Katurian is being interrogated about his fiction. What drives him to tell stories? What are the consequences of listening to them?

The answer is a rather vicious circle. It’s what the world inflicts on us that drives us to create stories. And our stories, in turn, affect how we see the world, and what we inflict on it.

In The Pillowman, all of the characters write stories, tell stories, or eagerly listen to them – with, admittedly, some pretty dreadful consequences.

The play presents us as a story driven species.

And that’s a story we’ve been telling ourselves quite a bit lately. It’s the idea behind much  of post-war European philosophy and contemporary American pragmatism.

Of course, it’s not the only story we can tell ourselves.

I often think that the difference between conservatives and progressives is summed up in their attitudes to narrative.

The progressives acknowledge that we tell ourselves stories, all the time. And they tell the tale that all stories are equal.

The conservatives assert there’s only one story, but argue about which one it is. And prefer to call it The Truth.

I tell myself I’m a progressive. It’s a story that boosts my ego.

But, after 140 minutes of high stakes storytelling, The Pillowman left me feeling that perhaps I’m neither progressive or conservative. It left me feeling that maybe there is something to Zen Buddhism and the ideas of Simone Weil. It left me feeling that perhaps we need to learn to shut the f*#*# up.

This is not a criticism. You gotta pay a play that’s utterly absorbing in performance and deeply troubling in the days that follow.

But The Pillowman did make me question the value of stories. It made me feel that perhaps we need to learn to stop the chatter, that maybe we need to learn to be quiet, and wait.

Veronica Kaye

The Pillowman

at New Theatre til 13 April