Samson was developed by emerging playwright Julia Rose-Lewis during her Artist-in-Residence at La Boite in 2013 and is currently in its premiere season under the direction of Kristine Landon-Smith at the La Boite Roundhouse in Kelvin Grove.
Samson is a poignant story about the emotional landscape of youth set against the stark and lonely terrain of rural Australia. Samson, the namesake of the piece, is deceased and his friends, Essie (Ashleigh Cummins), Beth (Belinda Jombwe) and Sid (Charles Wu) are left behind to make sense of their guilt and grief. When Essie breaks away from the group to find solace in the company of newcomer Rabbit (Benjamin Creek), resentment seeds and fractures what is left of their relationships.
The dialogue is very slow-paced and superficial and the action is lazy which nicely conveys those long, boring, sun-drenched days of youth, however the theatre-in-the-round meant that most of the dialogue was difficult to hear. The actors invariably had their backs toward someone and did not have the vocal development required to successfully project behind them. The conversations were at times reduced to a one-sided mumble which unfortunately frustrates ones ability to fairly appraise the production. Further to this, Benjamin Creek – although a lovely characterisation of lone-wolf, Rabbit – spoke so quickly that his dialogue was unintelligible. Creek absolutely nailed the colloquial speech of rural indigenous youth, but a little too well for city slicker ears. The stand-out performance from Charles Wu, whose conflicted Sid swung between guilt over Samson’s death and a desire to take his place as boyfriend-of-choice to grieving Beth.
The set was effective with varying rostrums as if the audience were looking down on a creekside, yellow earthy rock-scape, where the friends met to sun bake and hang-out. A memorial erected for the late Samson has turned their play spot into a place of pilgrimage and solitude.
Samson is a very young script that will surely prove popular among the peers of its teenage characters. Samson is playing at the La Boite Theatre until May 2. For more information, visit the La Boite website.