Ashley Hutchison reviews This Heaven, a Belvoir St Theatre production.
This Heaven, written by Nakkiah Lui and directed by Lee Lewis, examines fundamental and uncomfortable truths about racism in contemporary Australia.
This Belvoir St Theatre production is inaugurated with the death of Robert Gordon, an Aboriginal man in police custody. For his family there is $9000 in damages, and silence.
Though at times the writing is heavy-handed , the story itself is focused, neat and powerful. A well-deserved first triumph for Lui, who based this seminal work on hardships she personally faced as an Aboriginal law student from the western suburbs.
Lighting and effects are employed minimally and effectively. The small space is utilised well, with smoke and dim lighting giving gravity to the idea of a “dirty night”. Better yet is the use of a derelict swing-set as the stage’s centerpiece, its form mimicking that of the lopsided scales of justice
Performances delivered by the cast, particularly those done by the deceased’s children Sissy (Jada Albert) and blind Ducky (Travis Cardona), made watching this production an experience of troubled introspection. Lui and Lewis do not attempt to provide resolution or closure. Instead, what they deliver burns wild and festers with rage.
To find such early, personal writing so devoid of cliché and melodrama is rare. In This Heaven, the voice of truth is very ably conveyed by an excellent cast.
Belvoir St Theatre | Downstairs
7 February – 10 March