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12 September, 2019

A play about family, belonging and the need to listen - with standout videography work

On the anniversary of Vinnie’s suicide, the family gathers for a meal.

Grief manifests in a variety of ways.

Vinnie’s parents seem unable to talk about their feelings: Mum (Abigail, Lisa Maza) turning to drink, and Dad (Eric, Colin Smith) brooding over the horrendous experience of being the first to find his son.

Vinnie’s siblings appear to be retreating from the family: Preston (Benjin Maza) locking himself in his room, with 15-year old Akira (Ebony McGuire) staying glued to her phone.

But, if the rest of the family is finding it difficult to talk, Nanna Lou (Roxanne McDonald) — the feisty, funny and occasionally foul-mouthed matriarch — certainly overcompensates.

Steven Oliver (writer) has a wickedly funny turn of phrase and a strong stage presence.

The ‘voice’ of the writer comes through so powerfully in ‘From Darkness’ that I could imagine Oliver playing all of the roles; so, it’s just as well that the director (Isaac Drandic) has assembled a strong cast and fantastic creative support.

Keith Deverall’s videography work was a standout: compelling visual design that was both a work of art and also a vital means of communicating the dreams and spirit-world relationships which formed a central part of the story.

“R U OK?” Day seemed a perfect time to be sitting in the quirky (and fun) Brisbane Festival Theatre Republic space, waiting to see a play about a family coping with the aftermath of suicide.

I’m glad I saw it.

The interpersonal relationships were beautifully established and the messages about family, belonging, and the need to listen were carefully set up.

Go with an open mind, enjoy the occasional funny lines and come away reflecting on the importance of being with those who are close to you.

Or, in Preston’s words, “we need to remember us.”