Home (Queensland Theatre Company and Force of Circumstance)
The Greenhouse, Diane Cilento Studio
July 14 – 25
The saying goes that where there is a cup of tea, there is a story, so it is comforting to enter the foyer of QTC’s Greenhouse to see a tea station of china mugs and tables covered in vased flowers and doily-like decoration. It is a sense expanded upon as the audience enters the newly-named Diane Cilento Studio, which is lush in delightful detail. Its aesthetic is immediately warm and welcoming, thanks to the scattered chair cushions and the sounds of Travis Ash playing piano. And then there is the backdrop. What begins as a collage of photographic moments in time, as the show progresses, becomes canvas for a tapestry of memories and art, and some wonderful use of shadows. With Perspex panels with inset doors and windows, covered in key quotes, it is almost more of an installation and its changing shape is well-orchestrated through movement and multi-use of its mismatch of chairs and boxes.
‘The map of memory has its own continuity’, states one of the quotes that appear scattered around the stage and it is this notion that proves integral to the show’s premise and structure as, like memories, its narrative meanders about while, from deep in her soul, Margi Brown Ash shares stories from her actor-self, wife-self and mother-self lives. These occur in Egypt, New York, Sydney and Brisbane and like life itself the result is sometimes as much tearful as full of humour, strength and wisdom. The effect is provoking as well as pleasing in examination of lessons of life, loss and laughter. The show also weaves its way through return to the story of “Osiris and Queen Isis” which Ash shares in its opening as her favourite Egyptian myth in its story of love, grief and re-storying tragedy so new meanings emerge. The way in which ordinary joys and tragedies are blended with extraordinary stories of family and love is exquisite, balanced as they are by Travis’ delivery of social and political monologues as counter balance to the domestic stories.
This is very much Margi Brown Ash’s show and she proves herself to be a thoroughly generous performer, both on stage and pre-show in her greeting of the audience guests with whom she will be sharing her story (for her story is our story). Indeed, “Home” proves why she is an asset to any production; her dynamic energy and ease on stage are a delight to watch.
“Home” is a friendly show. Not only are audience members comforted by connection with content, but many are invited on stage to participate in the drama and assume roles of various people from Ash’s life. This is never confronting but rather entirely supported and in keeping with generosity of spirit that surrounds the production, and these moments add much gentle humour and appeal to the experience of the show.
There’s is an energy that some theatrical works have that is immediately engaging and “Home” has it in abundance. It is difficult not to be unmoved or untouched by its heart. It is life and it is art in the form of a charming, deeply-moving experience that will continue with you in contemplation of the extraordinariness of ordinary life laid bare, long after you leave. If you were not lucky enough to experience its sincerity in its earlier incantations at Metro Arts and La Boite Theatre, do not miss the opportunity to share in its stories c/o the Queensland Theatre Company.