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11 September, 2019

An honest, exhausting, causticly funny and emotionally voyeuristic exploration of grief and loss

From Darkness will tax you emotionally.

Stephen Oliver has woven a contemporary tapestry of sadness, grief and loss interspersed with caustic humour and family dysfunction.

Joking and sarcasm serve as a salve for a family’s grief after Vinnie takes his own life.

Suicide is a taboo subject and watching this show felt voyeuristic – like watching the family implode through their kitchen window.

Set in a suburban home, Eric and Abby, daughter Akira and son Preston (Vinnie’s twin) and Eric’s mother are gathered for dinner on the anniversary of Vinnie’s death.

Through the prism of each family member’s grief, we understand what Vinnie meant to each of them and how they individually and collectively cope with his death.

Preston (Benjin Maza) is being visited by spirits, while his mother Abby (Lisa Maza) is coping with the help of a different kind of spirits.

Her husband Eric (Colin Smith) has all but shut down and is enveloped by guilt and sadness, while Akira (Ebony McGuire) has her own spiritual connection to her brother and her grandfather.

Nan (Roxanne McDonald) is Eric’s mother and through her caustic wit, she is laying blame on them all.

As an audience, we witness the family members trying to understand their humanity and how they misguidedly blame themselves.

At its heart, the play is honest, exhausting emotional voyeurism, as we watch them unravel almost to complete disaster and how their spirits play a part in saving this family.

From Darkness challenges us to think about death, how we deal with loss and why we need to talk more openly and honestly about suicide.

This is not a uniquely Indigenous story but a familiar one set in an Indigenous context.

It opens our eyes to understanding how ancient Aboriginal Spirituality and death interplay in our contemporary world.