Damian Overton’s new Australian play The Bully premiered at the Metro Arts on 10th October. Although the play’s title is The Bully, the content is more about the loved ones left behind in the after math of a young gay teenager’s suicide as a result of bullying.
Overton has written a well-constructed play paying homage to our great sunshine state. Memorable scenes are peppered throughout the play with well-written vernacular and excellent character work assisting the comedy of the piece. Graveyard monologues, and the meeting with Ryder and the family, were especially poignant, although perhaps the end of act one could have been tidied up to ensure the audience was not abruptly sent into intermission.
[pull_left]Overton has written a well-constructed play paying homage to our great sunshine state[/pull_left]The other very minor thing that detracted from the naturalistic style was the door miming. (As the door was used a few times, and even spoken through at one stage, perhaps an actual door could have been used. Obviously, staged slightly differently to still allow for sight lines, which is perhaps the reason why the frame was used in the first place.)
The standout performance was that of Chris Farrell who played Ryder, the boyfriend left behind. His character was instantly likable, his performance touching, and his stage presence compelling. “I can see why Hunter loved you”.
Katy Cotter also shone in the role of Lily; friend of Ryder and Hunter. Her tough love and belief in minimalising the bullshit made for a ‘fire cracker’ performance.
Emily Hingst was utterly believable as Stevie, the slightly bogan sister who kept the family together and Cameron Hurry as Cohen was afforded the opportunity to explore a gamut of emotions from cheeky dissociative brother with hidden nightmares to outraged revenger.
In fact, all the ensemble characters were very well drawn. Megan Peta Hill successfully navigated the complex character of Anna Hodges, the trophy wife of the church cult leader. Sebastian Angborn was perfectly cast as Elijah Roberts, the man on the rise who thinks he is one step ahead of the cult leader with one leg over his wife. (The twist in who’s really on top was a nice surprise.) And of course Shane Jury was brilliant as the questionable cult leader, Zye Hodges. I hated him from the start, so it was a job well done!
The ‘dead boy’ (Hunter, played by Alex Gavioli), interspersed throughout the play like a ghost in limbo unfortunately came across as playing the victim. Obviously, he was the victim, but for some reason our Aussie sensibilities don’t seem to have much empathy for people who play the victim. Perhaps under-playing the character would have drawn more empathy from the audience, and in turn given more weight to the play.
The Bully is a worthy play to have a life outside the Metro Arts, as it brooches a very important and relevant topic while still maintain that good ol’ Aussie sense of humour.