Fracture is making its Sydney debut at the Old Fitz, a home for innovative, new Australian work that pushes boundaries and defies expectations, which seems appropriate for this insightful and intriguing thriller by first-time writer and director Lucy Clements.
Charlie and his roommates live a seemingly mundane and repetitive life in their rundown Perth apartment. Charlie is haunted by nightmares that won’t go away and an accompanying anxiety that has stifled his life, leaving him jobless, sleepless and estranged from his partner, Grace.
At the core of Clements’ clever script is a carefully handled commentary on mental illness and isolation; she reveals piercing insights into the power anxiety can hold over people and the consequent havoc it can wreak – debilitating panic attacks and relationship breakdown. Clements manages to weave some lighter, comic moments- relatable scenes between roommates bickering over soymilk or playing a very heated game of Mario kart, into a dense and heavy script. Clements, whose tense direction accentuates the suspense of her writing, unfolds the mysteries and intricacies in her play skilfully over the course of the show. Some of the more mundane scenes feel laboured at times, and a faster pace at times could aid these moments.
The central relationship between Charlie (Brandon McClelland) and his estranged lover Grace (Kate Cheel) is poignant and affecting at times, but feels unnatural at others. The believability of their relationship is key to investment in the story, and while the performances by McClelland and Cheel are both extremely captivating, at times the dialogue feels a little contrived. This is a minor issue in what is an excellent and compelling script.
The performances all round are excellent. Supportive roommates, played by Tel Benjamin and Contessa Treffone. are concerned, kind and humorous, and their bickering brings some comic relief when most needed. McClelland’s disturbed Charlie is likeable in his relatability and extremely affecting in his moments of anxiety and grief. His performance has the audience laughing alongside him at times and feeling the pangs of his heartbreak at others.
Charlie’s shunned lover Grace is a mystery for the first half – a name whispered between the roommates with disdain, anger and fear. When Grace finally emerges onstage Cheel commands the audience’s attention for every moment thereafter. Her nuanced and incredibly detailed emotional performance is haunting and affecting- she inspires equal parts fear and sympathy over the course of the show.
It’s exciting to witness the development and creation of refreshing, new Australian works and Clements and her stellar cast have created an incredibly engaging and provoking piece Fracture is making its Sydney debut at the Old Fitz, a home for innovative, new Australian work that pushes boundaries and defies expectations, which seems appropriate for this insightful and intriguing thriller by first-time writer and director Lucy Clements.that examines grief, mental illness, and relationship breakdowns that enthral and challenges the audience from the outset. Fracture plants seeds that will stay with viewers for long after the show’s powerful conclusion.