The Collaborations Team who brought Nest of Skunks to the Depot two years ago are back. Their latest effort is about a young man who leaves the front line in Afghanistan where he was a medic to return home plagued with images from the war. His mother is at a loss as to how to help him, while he is highly susceptible to emotional triggers to the past.
This is a gutsy play that packs a punch. The writers don’t back away from the intense psychological pain that Rob (Philippe Kraus) is in: we are plunged into his horror filled dreams almost immediately, as he struggles with ongoing PTSD. Kraus has us in thrall with the raw nerve of his performance, though it was pitched emotionally high throughout the first act, by the second act he adds more nuance which allows for a better pace.
Martin Harper plays dual roles as brother Dennis and Captain Crowe. These two characters could not be more dissimilar yet Harper is brilliant in both, particularly as Rob’s much older brother. Harper brings a warmth and authenticity to Dennis that counters the Captain’s cruel brutality.
Rob’s mother Mary Ellen is played by Elaine Hudson, mum is a pacifist who is in despair over her son’s condition. Hudson presents as caring yet slightly guilty mother, as Mary Ellen was against his entering the military in the first place, so she still has guilt that she did not dissuade him from joining up.
Other support cast include Joshua Shediak as army buddy Brownie and Matilda Brodie in dual roles, counselor Melodie and Jodie. Both were excellent, particularly Shediak who as Brownie added a composed balance, a yin to Rob’s yang.
To the uninitiated, the army life can seem a strange and harsh place. Sharp writing with much dark humour, along with incisive directing by Kevin Jackson, allows this play with its sometimes brutal depictions to let the light come in, and let people appreciate the difficulties and taboos of a very different kind of life with all of its attendant pathologies.
Mum, Me & The I.E.D is on until Sept 1, at the Depot Theatre Marrickville, for more information see: http://thedepottheatre.com/
Featuring: Matilda Brodie, Martin Harper, Elaine Hudson, Philippe Klaus and Joshua Shediak.
Creative/Tech Team: James Balian & Roger Vickery (writers), Kevin Jackson (director), Rachel Scane (set & costume design), Martin Kinnane (lighting design), Ben Piermont (sound design) and Lydia Kelly (stage manager).