‘Hobo’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by July 6, 2016

‘Hobo’ by WAAPA trained, Aboriginal playwright, James Taylor, is an acerbic comedy that is crude and rude. Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company proudly supports it through their Next Step programme.

This ‘Jeffrey the Cat’, 70-minute Elinor King production has adult concepts, and is part of the City of Perth’s Winter Arts Festival.

This superbly written and structured drama – with a great twist at the end – can be seen at The Blue Room Theatre, 53 James Street, Northbridge where the performances start at 7.00 each evening until Saturday 16th July.

 

Chris Brain’s set design is stunning. The scene is the back alley at the rear of the ‘Man Hole’ gay club. There are mountains of black bin bags rotting amongst the decaying brickwork, along with discarded shopping trolleys and boxes.

The lighting designer, Chloé Ogilvie came from the wilds of the bush (well Tom Price) to WAAPA to train. Her subdued lighting and subtle control of the faders helped developed the most realistic slum conditions. The whole effect is topped off by yet another WAAPA trained student, Taylor Everitt, who provided the soundscape. This show has a great deal of work for the stage manager, Rebecca Davidse.

 

       Tank (Maitland Schnaars) is an Aboriginal down-and-out, living with as much pride as society allows. He spends his day listening to his portable radio and drinking bottles of wine ‘acquired’ from the local grog shop. His best friend and arguing partner is Fred (James Hagan) an ex-radio announcer who lost his family, job – everything.

      One night, a half-dressed gay man is thrown out of the club and into their alley. This is Terry (James Taylor). Terry is less than polite to Tank, so the hobo forces the young man to drink his cheapest and nastiest grog. The man becomes comatose, and this is where the problems begin.

 

This story is a superbly observed piece, the dialogue is true to life and fits the characters perfectly; the topic may be a little heavy, but there is dark humour and raw ‘real life’ contained within, giving the tale the necessary lift. Just when you think you have the full picture of the characters, and you know where the story is going, the detrimental effects of the grog show in a most unexpected and dramatic way. Splendid writing from an author who developed his creative skills with ‘Playwriting Australia’.

Talented director, Ian Wilkes has gathered three very experienced actors, who were filled with unrelenting energy and wonderful chemistry, the result was three amazingly powerful performances. Not much wonder there were gasps and ‘wows’ from the audience at the final curtain.

This quality theatre is difficult to fault, and I am pleased to announce that the show is going to travel across to the eastern states to demonstrate WA’s capabilities.