... a dreamer, freelance writer, naturopath, mother & former social work student based in the Blue Mountains. Continue the journey with me- Soul Home: https://www.instagram.com/the_soul_home/thewildemoon: https://www.instagram.com/thewildemoon/
The stage reminds me of an aeroplane hangar. Dim, empty, stark. About to transport us somewhere. Our protagonist appears and begins a Shakespearean account of this re-telling of teenage love and woe. Just as abruptly Leon Cain (the solo actor) becomes Johnny the modern character whose story is being told.
Where are the props? The other characters that feature in this tale? Ahh, but this play, brought to us by the La Boite Theatre Company, is all about the interior workings of a teenage boys mind. The sparse set and solo performance takes us ever so efficiently into the depths of the character to the point we don't condemn his actions, but end up moved.
Once I adjusted to the character switches (Leon plays all characters in the play) I found myself drawn into the online world of Johnny and the various characters he creates.
The play which is based upon a true story (as indeed are most bizarre tales) is about Johnny's infatuation with Marky Mark whom he meets online. Johnny develops an online relationship with Marky Mark by representing himself as a girl called Alba J. The bizarre situation gets more and more complicated: Johnny creates even more fictional online characters including a serial killer, a female spy and members of Johnny's family, in his quest to lure Marky Mark to online connection. As the web of deception becomes more tangled and Johnny despairs of finding real and honest love with Marky Mark, he engineers his own death.
This story of a disadvantaged and lonely fourteen year old boy pursuing a more popular, football playing sixteen year old male, provides a twist on the usual tales of older male online stalkers.
During the entire performance, the audience seemed absorbed by this intense tale with its convoluted plot. Those who like raw, frank and brilliant performances won't be disappointed. However, if you find references to masturbation, homosexuality, swearing and expressions that belittle the older generation, offensive, then this isn't for you.
I Love You Bro is engaging and brutally honest. What makes this tragi-comedy so good is Leon Cain's ability to portray the teenage character Johnny, the sheer audacity and craziness of the story and the raw and engaging dialogue. What makes it electrifying, is the fact it is based closely on real events back in 2003 in Manchester, when a 14 year old boy was discovered in a deserted alley with nearly fatal stab wounds. The 14 year old victim was arrested and charged with engineering his own death (setting a legal precedent in the UK) while his best friend was charged with attempted murder. Police used nine months of data from the boy's computers to unravel the facts of this bizarre case.
The play touches on contemporary issues in a way that makes it a highly relevant social commentary on not only the dangers and pitfalls of the online chat room, but the vulnerability, gullibility and social alienation of some teenagers.
The talented Leon Cain won the 2010 Matilda Award for his performance in I Love You Bro. While he certainly doesn't pass as a fourteen year old in the physical sense - and that might jar with some - he manages to encompass the character emotionally.
I love you Bro was written by playwright Adam Cass and directed by David Berthold of the La Boite Theatre Company. It is an extremely well written play nominated for a Greenroom Award for Best Australian Writing.
I Love You Bro is ultimately about the need for connection and the modern modus apparatus for that: the online chat room.. Important viewing for any young person, parent or person interested in contemporary issues.
For more information about I Love You Bro, including tour dates and ticketing information see the La Boite Theatre Company website.
I attended this play at the Riverside Theatre at Parramatta which I found to be a warm, intimate, well run little theatre. Looking forward to more productions of this calibre there. If you visit, take up the option of the $5 flat rate parking nearby at Erby Place and partake from the varied cuisines of the very lively and happening restaurant scene only moments from the doors of the theatre.