I'm a freelance actor, travel writer, photographer, foodie and attention seeker living in the lower North Shore. Check out my blog at www.emmajaneexplores.com for more.
It's time for men to stop watching
Domestic and gendered violence is nothing new. In fact, women and children have been victims of family violence for a long, long time while society turned a blind eye. According to Impact For Women, more than one woman is killed a week at the hands of a current or ex-partner and eight women are hospitalised a week.
King of Pigs, playing at the Old Fitz Theatre, refuses to allow a blind eye to be turned to family violence. This new play by Steve Rodgers, forces the audience to watch family and gendered violence unfold in front of their eyes for a brutal 70 minutes. First-time director, Blazey Best handles this intense and relentless script with aplomb, never letting up and never releasing the tension in the theatre until the final light goes down. As Best says in her director's note, King of Pigs is "an invitation for all of us to look at ourselves, our attitudes and our prejudices".
Throughout the play, we see the spiral of domestic and gendered violence through many different scenarios. The thing they have in common? When the relationship starts, all these men come across as nice, 'good blokes' who wouldn't hurt a fly. Then comes the controlling, the manipulation, the emotional abuse and the physical violence.
Ella Scott-Lynch is the sole female in the play, and she has the mammoth task of depicting the women in these fractured, broken and abusive relationships. Scott-Lynch's stamina is quite astounding, she has constant character changes and never leaves the stage, which is a tough ask for any actor. Overlay that with the fact that in the 70 minute run time of King of Pigs, Scott-Lynch is thrown around the stage playing characters who have been abused emotionally and physically. Her gritty and honest work in this piece is nothing short of remarkable.
Kire Tosevski displays a gentle and kind stage presence as the sole man onstage who is not spiralling into domestic violence. His scenes in partnership with Ella Scott-Lynch and their son, Wylie Best are poignant and heartwarming, when Tosevksi is onstage, we feel safe and hopeful that there are men out there who are willing to fight for change. Wylie Best is a beautiful, thoughtful presence as their young son displaying some great acting chops for a youngster making his Sydney stage debut.
Rounding out the rest of the cast are the men who in various ways manage to demean, abuse and deplete Scott-Lynch's characters. Christian Byers has a great youthful energy onstage and is incredibly likeable, which makes his actions throughout the play hard to swallow. Ashley Hawkes transitions from clean-cut banker to terrifying scarily smoothly. Mick Bani (making his stage debut) rounds out the cast with a convincing performance as a controlling ex-footballer who finds himself completely destroyed by his own actions.
Christian Byers and Ella Scott-Lynch
The fantastic cast are the heart of this play, however, they're beautifully supported by a fantastic, slightly rotten domestic set design by Isabel Hudson, an anxiety-inducing sound design by Tegan Nicholls using compositions by Iota and a cleverly sparse lighting design by Verity Hampson.
King of Pigs comes with a very big trigger warning. If you're not having a great day, or you will be triggered by domestic violence being played out in front of you, then this is not the show for you. However, this play is an important one, with a lot to say and a lot to hold us accountable for. As Steve Rodgers says in his playwright's notes: "The human experience has a way to travel yet. We've got to believe we can change it for the better." Emma attended this production as a guest.