Entering a world of memory and the now – a man trying to come to terms with the demon of his past – and for the most part doing this on his own. We witness him in his journey from when and where the sexual assault began – to the man he is today influenced by the event, determined to live his life, and also find justice. It is a heart wrenching story – and one that is not uncommon in society – abuse that is poisonous to the lives it happens to and to the loved ones of the victim. How does one move forward from such trauma?
Played with heartfelt naturalism and honesty by Graeme McRae, this is the true story of David Holthouse. Stalking The Bogeyman is told in such a way that you are responding moment by moment to the life of David in his reliving of the experience and him trying to come to terms with his abuse. We the audience feel his horror, his fear, his wanting it to all go away, his awareness of other bogeymen in society, his desire for revenge, his desire to self destruct, and his secrecy of the rape to the people closest in his life in order to protect them.
The fear is real when the Bogeyman intimidates David. A challenging role to play, and performed with a sharpness and unpredictability by Radek Jonak – keeping the audience on the edge of their seats throughout. The cast is convincing as a whole, and some double up as other influences in David’s life. Anne Tenney played the Bogeyman’s mother, a sweet suburban housewife. Especially fascinating was Tenney’s portrayal as David’s drug dealer and friend, a woman with a similar abusive past. Alexander Palacio played the Bogeyman’s jovial father and in contrast gave a most memorable and impactful performance as gang member Payaso. Deborah Jones played David’s mother Nancy with an earnest authenticity and vulnerability especially when she discovers her son’s horrific secret. Noel Hodda portrayed a loving father trying to reach his son David, and also the creepy role of Coach Billy – another bogeyman in David’s world.
The Old Fitz has been transformed into a 1970’s family home – full to the brim with teenager escapades – TV, video games, sports-gear, martial arts equipment – a space that quickly feels more sinister when a teenager and a seven year-old boy are alone. Stalking The Bogeyman is a real actors piece for the performers to flesh out characters of the past and the present. The design of the production overshadowed the storytelling a little, and the play would have benefited less set and more incorporation of the actors on stage.
A very involving piece of theatre that leaves you thinking and feeling a little raw from the sexual trauma that so many in our society experience. This production raises the question of how one gets through abuse, how do we cope in the aftermath of such events and move forward. In a tragic but sober speech – David reveals how as horrific as the rape was as a young boy – it has influenced him into becoming the man he is today, a man he is proud of. Our pains can influence our lives – they can overcome us or we can use them in some way. In Stalking The Bogeyman, writers David Holthouse and Markus Potter have used true life trauma in a transformative way – shining insight on such darkness and making everyone in the story less bogeyman, and somehow more human.
Stalking The Bogeyman is on until 23 June at The Old Fitz Theatre, for more information and tickets see: https://www.redlineproductions.com.au/stalking-the-bogeyman/
Featuring: Noel Hodda, Radek Jonak, Deborah Jones, Graeme McRae, Alexander Palacio and Anne Tenney.
Creative/Tech Team: David Holthouse (playwright), Markus Potter (playwright), Neil Gooding (director & producer), Lauren Peters (design), Alexander Berlage (lighting design), Benjamin Freeman (composition & sound design), Erin James (assistant director), Genenieve Muratore (stage manager) and Jennifer White (dialect consultant).
above image by John Marmaras