This collaboration between Australian company Brink Productions and the English Touring Theatre is at once touching, hopeful, horrifying, sad and funny. But mostly it is very, very human.
Thursday is very close to perfect. A collaboration between Australian company Brink Productions and the English Touring Theatre, it explores the London bombings of 7 July 2005, and is inspired by the experiences of Gill Hicks, an Australian woman who lost her legs in one of the blasts.
Rather than take a journalistic view of events by providing a detailed reckoning of the facts, figures or societal response, the production focuses on the experiences of survivors, both those who made it through the attacks, and those who loved somebody who didn’t. Such a focus could have been cloying or shallow but instead it is touching, thanks to Bryony Lavery’s excellent writing. Her characters are rich, genuine, and instantly recognisable. Their existence is shown whole, complete with neuroses, stupid arguments and hopeless dreams. The play also provides insights into the minds of these characters by having other actors vocalise their internal thoughts. This is yet another choice that might have been confusing, or seemed like a shortcut for the writer. Here, it is a spectacular bonus that delivers much of the play’s humour and humanity.
As skillful as the writing is, much credit must also go to the flawless cast. There were no light roles and everyone was called on to express the full spectrum of emotion from rage to joy. The tiniest moments with a minor character – a man who longs to connect with his sons; the woman who becomes the old hand in the hospital waiting room – stayed with you long after leaving the show. Director Chris Drummond has brought together a great many threads and woven them with such craft that you can’t see the seams.
On top of this beautiful foundation sits the play’s centrepiece: the character of Rose (a strong dramatic parallel to Gill Hicks). We follow her as she is shocking snapped out of one life and into another. Kate Mulvany as Rose is magical. She moves effortlessly from spite to rage to despair and manages it all while retaining the central essence of the part. Rose doesn’t become a new, transformed person after the crisis; instead, the play enables us to see how the same old Rose has developed and grown.
A final word for the show’s designer, Dan Potra, and lighting designer, Colin Grenfell. The translucent sets are very clever. While clearly identifiable and solid, they also allow a glimpse of the activity in other rooms. This brings a sense of depth to the on-stage world, blurring the barriers between characters and places. The full possibilities of the set are brought to life by well-placed lights. These bring obscured backrooms into sudden, clear relief, allowing the focus of the play to jump around the set instantaneously. This beautifully facilitates the efficient, action-packed writing and performances.
Thursday is at once touching, hopeful, horrifying, sad and funny. But mostly it is very, very human. This play should be mandatory watching.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Director and dramaturg: Chris Drummond
Designer: Dan Potra
Composer and musician: Quentin Grant
Lighting designer: Colin Grenfell
Producers: Kay Jamieson (Aus) and Jane Claire (UK)
Featuring: Paul Blackwell, Emma Handy, Martin Hutson, Lena Kaur, Tom Mothersdale, Kate Mulvany, Nathan O'Keefe, Deidre Rubenstein and Rochenda Sandall
Norwood Concert Hall, Norwood
25 February – 16 March
Adelaide Festival 2013
1 – 17 March