The Sum of Us – Brisbane Season

 Produced by Hit Productions, the Brisbane leg of The Sum of Us tour seemed plagued by an interstate curse. First one of the actors became ill and the first three performances of an already quick stay were cancelled. 

 Presented by: Hit Productions Venue: QUT Gardens Theatre (Brisbane)  Monday, September 19, 2011

The Sum of Us‘Our children are the sum of us.’ (Harry – The Sum of Us) Produced by Hit Productions, the Brisbane leg of The Sum of Us tour seemed plagued by an interstate curse. First one of the actors became ill and the first three performances of an already quick stay were cancelled. Then the production manager was ordered to take a few days off for foot fatigue (well not quite, but sounds dramatic!), and then due to the shuffle around to put on extra shows, there was a clash of timetables as one of the other actors Nell Feeney was already scheduled to shoot some scenes for her role of Bec’s mum in Winners & Losers back in Melbourne. So John Jarratt’s wife Cody Jarrett who is a TV producer stepped in to play her part for the Brisbane leg of the tour. Cody did an amazing job envious of any professional actor in such a pressured time frame. The Sum of Us, made famous by the 1995 AFI Best Film screen adaption written by David Stevens and starring Jack Thomson and Russell Crowe, is about the trials and tribulations of a father, his gay son, and their respective relationships in suburban Australia. Having not seen the film for a while, I could appreciate the play version all anew. The play concentrated on the four main characters; the father, played by John Jarratt (best known for his work in Wolf Creek, McLeod’s Daughters, and Better Homes & Gardens), his son Jeff, played by Patrick Harvey (best known as the Irish lad from Neighbours), Jeff’s love interest, played by Glenn Van Oosterom (known in Melbourne for his work with the Australian Shakespeare Company, and the father’s love interest Joyce, played by Nell Feeney (currently in Winners & Losers). The format of the play broke with traditional theatrical convention by breaking up the scenes with straight address monologues to the audience, which gave further insight into the lovable characters and the challenges of their relationships. The pacing of the direction by Dennis Moore was almost filmic in some senses, allowing the moments of the characters to linger until the moment had passed rather than pander to the concentration span of an i-generation audience. Even though the play confronts the topic of homosexuality and various societal views, the play was far from deep and heavy. It was very Australian in the way that we poke fun at each other and ourselves. I think I spent half the play laughing. Patrick as the Jeff was lovable and mesmerising to watch with his cheeky smile and larikan charm, even when underneath he’s full of self-doubt and has under-achiever syndrome. John Jarratt as Harry was very natural and equally as lovable with his “take me as I am” sans airs and graces and accepting of his sons sexuality even though he doesn’t fully understand and secretly thinks his son is missing out on something. But still, he’s a great dad and a great friend, and doing the best he can for his son, and for that, the audience thinks he’s a champion. Glenn as the awkward wall-flower gardener Greg, evoked compassion for someone who is still in the closet to his parents and has trouble feeling comfortable even at Jeff’s place where there is love and acceptance in the home. The Sum of Us is a very important Australian work as it approaches a very important topic with humour and humility. So important that I would go as far to say that it should be part of the school curriculum, so it’s apt that this production is on such a long tour. I hope all of Australia gets out to see it. Dates Australian Tour (till November 2011)Booking Information Ph: (03) 9599 0899 

Bobbi-Lea Dionysius

Bobbi-Lea is's QLD Co-ordinator, writer, reviewer, and reporter. She is also an actor, presenter, and theatre/film producer for Drama Queen Productions in Brisbane. Bobbi-Lea holds a Degree in Music Theatre as well as a Degree in Film & TV, and is currently doing her Masters in Screen Production.

Bobbi-Lea Dionysius

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