Has there, or can there ever be such a thing as a ‘normal’, quiet family life? Andrew Bovell’s 2016 Australian-British play tears right to the heart of the family unit in this suburban drama brought to life by the Wild Duck company, in searing, tear-jerking style.
The play opens with Rosie, the youngest of four children, returning with a broken heart from her gap-year travels in Europe. Mum, Fran, quickly assembles her brood of grown-up children to welcome her home, but before Dad, Bob, has even handed round the cups of tea, the bickering has already started and the excuses pour out. “Oh, I can’t stay…”, “Just popping in…”, “That’s my cue to go…”. One by one they return to their lives and Bob and Fran are left with just one little bird in her nest. It’s an incomplete family picture; where are the Sunday afternoon BBQs they imagined? The weddings? The grand-kids? They’ve raised their children to believe they could have anything they wanted, and now they’ve gone out and taken it, what happens when they’re left behind? The fractures only widen, the further away they get.
Set in the suburbs of Adelaide, Australia but conceived with the Adelaide State Theatre alongside Frantic Assembly, a British company renowned for their physical theatre work, Wild Duck has brought to the OSO stage a topical, relevant naturalistic drama peppered with sections of choreographed movement, devised by the company. As a young breakaway company themselves (Director Susan Conte has 6+ previous years’ experience directing) Wild Duck is deservedly garnering a reputation for presenting bold, intelligent, contemporary work. Having appeared at the Lyric, Hammersmith only this year, Things I Know to be True is hot off the press.
Bovell has crafted a play of such startling honesty it is by turns joyful and painfully uncomfortable watch…