The idea of the family unit has long been the basis for great theatre – as our definition of what a family is grows more expansive, so too has our exploration of what that means on stage. There are the families we are born with, and the families we find ourselves throughout our lives. And then, there is the family at the centre of Big Heart, headed by a single matriarch who has adopted five children from five different continents. Writer Patricia Cornelius' work has always concerned itself with scratching off the shiny veneer of Australian society, and in Big Heart she delves into ideas of family and multiculturalism in a typically uncompromising way.
Director Susie Dee has created a slick production that allows the story of this family to play out seamlessly over twenty-odd years. We first meet the Mother, played by Andrea Swifte, as an older woman, an only child who was raised to take over the family business and afforded every luxury in life – luxuries she wants to pass on to the children she seeks out from every corner of the globe. The ensemble cast does a wonderful job of portraying her kids from their infancy to adulthood, developing authentic relationships and highlighting the ways in which the family dynamic changes as they grow older.