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The Wind in the Underground - Review

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by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce (subscribe)
Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at:
Published January 30th 2018
Return of the misfit
There is a genre of theatre and cinema based on the fragmented (usually dysfunctional) family being brought together by some event (typically the death of the mother or father) and sitting around dragging out the secrets that each has long buried.

Perhaps 'genre' is too strong a word. Concept? Trope? Theme? Meme? August: Osage County is a well-known example. I remember thinking that this was a great source of plots for future dramas.

The Wind in the Underground, Perth Fringe World 2018, Sam O'Sullivan, Lucy Clements, Whitney Richards
The cast of the Wind in the Underground (Photograph courtesy of Perth Fringe World)

The new young playwright, Sam O'Sullivan, has taken this idea and shifted the emphasis slightly to produce an interesting variation on the theme. The fragmented family consists of four siblings and the task is not so much to bury a parent as to redecorate and then pack-up the great old house where they grew up.

The conversations centre on the secrets of their relationships, as revealed in the games they used to play. And the shift in emphasis is on the Australian coming of age ritual of the first trip to Europe.

The writer (a Curtin graduate) and director, Lucy Clements (WAAPA) are West Aussies now based in Sydney. The play is a one-act written to be part of a two-play evening at the Old Fitz theatre in Woolloomooloo. It premiered there in May last year. A number of other Perth-ites in Sydney have worked on the script and this is its third incarnation.

My guess would be a steady lengthening to about 55 minutes so that it can stand alone on a programme. Unlike many other Fringe plays, it is important enough to have the luxury and space of the Studio Underground.

Its strength is the excellent ensemble acting of the four-members of the original cast. Timing and mutual support is immaculate as they jumped seamlessly from the present day to their childhood games. It was wonderful to see Whitney Richards back at the State Theatre Centre.

The title comes from the stories related by Simon - the misfit who left home - to Claire. In the London Underground, the arrival of a train is preceded by the wind of air pushed along through the tunnel. A revelation for the traveller, mundane to the locals. For Simon a metaphor for being pushed along through life.

The set is minimalist. A garden table and chairs with a scattering of cardboard boxes. Sound and lighting competently complement the action.

The Wind in the Underground has a youthful exuberance. In the range of Perth Fringe World events (all the way from the experimental and virtually unwatchable to the sublime) this is reliable theatre which will capture your interest and attention.

The Wind in the Underground runs until the 3rd February and tickets can be purchased here.

Highly Recommended.

The Wind in the Underground, Perth Fringe World 2018, Sam O'Sullivan, Lucy Clements, Whitney Richards
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Why? Secrets of the sibling relationships
When: 6:15pm
Where: Studio Underground at the State Theatre, 174 William Street, Northbridge
Cost: $29
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