Where: Bakehouse Theatre
When: until 5 March
This review contains spoilers for the plot of Home Thoughts. It also contains mentions of sexual assault and suicide.
I am a 20 something year old person who has lived in Adelaide for the bulk of her 20s. Some of my friends now live somewhere else. Some of my friends have left and come back. Home Thoughts, at first glance, felt like it was written by James Watson for someone like me.
Clara (Ren Williams) has just come home for a visit while she has been studying at art school in Melbourne. Her sister, Sarah (Krystal Cave), has fulfilled the stereotypical Adelaide dream – she’s married her high school sweetheart, teaches at the school they attended, and has bought a house. The visit feels strained. There’s clearly a gulf between them, neither of them really letting the other in. The sisters pretend to each other – and themselves – that everything is okay. It’s not immediately clear what each of their problems are, but then it all unravels.
The secret that Clara is hiding is less concerning than foreshadowed. She feels disillusioned by painting and her experience at art school. She needs a break. And to stop listening to her St Peter’s ex-boyfriend who keeps telling her “there’s no money in art”.
The secret that Sarah is hiding is more intense. Her marriage has broken down because she has decided she does not want to have children with her husband and, in an attempt to find her youth, has slept with one of her year 12 students. Sarah deals with this series of events by drinking excessively and then driving off a cliff. This part of the plot line – statutory rape and attempted suicide – is resolved by Sarah going away, because her “teaching career is over” and Adelaide’s too small for personal growth. Clara cheerfully waves her off.
All problematic parts of the plot aside, there are some nice references to life in Adelaide. Watson, local to Adelaide, makes tongue in cheek references to Red Flag bearing Marxists, the Exeter, and the Adelaide Fringe. In fact, the whole reason the play exists is one of those classic Adelaide things of wanting to see the place you’re from reflected in popular culture. Despite this, Watson near continuously makes reference to the impossibility of being challenged and of how boring it is here; this gets old quickly. Things might not always come easy here, but when you look for them, opportunities are there.
Home Thoughts is disappointing. What could have been a nice reflection on home and identity leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Watson attempts to cover topics that are too complex for the hour run time, and instead he doesn’t deal with them at all.