Image: Lisa Tomasetti
Challenging and confronting, Samson is an extremely impressive first play by Julia-Rose Lewis. One that asks the big questions of life – our purpose for being, death, and God’s existence.
Lewis’ play focuses on three teenagers trying to come to terms with the death of a never seen close friend, Samson. A newcomer to the area, nicknamed Rabbit (Benjamin Creek) slowly befriends Essie (Ashleigh Cummings) which greatly disrupts the dynamics of the group and leads to a vicious fight. Set in a remote outback town, the residents of which have very limited futures, Essie is desperate to escape. The four close-knit friends live a seemingly carefree existence until one tragically drowns, a defining catalyst which causes suppressed feelings and emotions to surface. Guilt ,grief and despair are evident. Amidst issues of racism, gender, family illness, religion and sexuality, the way friendships change as children grow from adolescence into mature adults is examined with an honest,warm eye. The story is almost cinematic, told in short, sharp scenes. At one point the quartet, while overlapping, appear in different times and places.
The terrific young cast of four give passionate performances, full of vibrant energy and passionate commitment. As fragile, vulnerable Essie, with braided hair and a defiant attitude, Ashleigh Cummings is terrific, almost unrecognizable as the same person who plays Dot in the Phryne Fisher mysteries. Benjamin Creek is delightful as cheeky, handsome Rabbit who is also a great dancer. Charles Wu is most impressive as conflicted Sid, whose dead end job gives him nightmares and wants to be Beth’s companion, now that Samson has passed away. Beth is played with intensity by Belinda Jombwe.
The almost multi level set is light in colour with dappled lighting and takes up the entire tiny stage of Belvoir downstairs. It becomes a hidden place where the friends hang out. A jagged wooden sculpture and a cross, decorated with teddy bears, flowers etc are ‘the memorial’ for Samson that Beth, in particular, fusses over.
Overall, Samson is a challenging thoughtful play about friendships and guilt, with fine performances by all of the cast.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
By Julia-Rose Lewis
Director Kristine Landon-Smith
Composer /Sound designer Kim Bowers
Lighting Ben Hughes
Set & costumes Michael Hili
Rabbit Benjamin Creek
Essie Ashleigh Cummings
Beth Belinda Jombwe
Sid Charles Wu
A co-production between
La Boite Theatre Company and Belvoir
7–31 May 2015