Where: Nexus Arts
Tickets: Concession from $25, available here
Content warnings and accessibility: Strong depictions of domestic violence, discussion and portrayal of homophobia and racism. The venue is wheelchair accessible.
Together, the latest from starheART theatre, follows in a long theatrical tradition of one-act plays about dysfunctional dinner parties. While I admire the attempt to touch on so many things that feature in young Australians’ lives – domestic violence, queer sexualities, racism, alcohol abuse, mental health issues, just to name the big ones – this play tries to do far too much, and ends up failing to give each of these important issues the space they need.
The actors are all very strong, imparting a strong characterisation to the eccentric group of friends. But the writing here lets them down. Together was written collaboratively by the cast. At its best, collaborative writing allows a multiplicity of diverse voices and experiences to shine through. Unfortunately, it can also cause a show to lose its cohesion, as is the case here.
There is a content warning given in the show’s ticketing page that Together contains depictions of domestic violence, which is only appropriate: this show, if anything, needs a stronger warning for domestic violence. I wish they’d thought to include a warning for homophobia and racism too. While the depiction of domestic violence and the discussion around the culture of not-intervening is important, it needs to be done with nuance, something I felt this show ultimately lacked. Domestic violence is not a good excuse for a cut-to-black shock ending – this show, for all its good intentions seemed to use it this way. That the show is billed in most of their promotion as a comedy compounds the problems I had with their use of domestic violence throughout the show.
Using a well-known theatrical trope to explore the intersecting issues that young people face is a clever concept, and I can see the good intentions of this show. However, addressing such issues needs to be done with nuance and complexity, and in trying to cover everything, Together ultimately didn’t do any justice. I left with a bad taste in my mouth that no level of great acting or characterisation could clear.