This Is Where We Live

This Is Where We Live
By Vivienne Walshe. Griffin Independent and Just Visiting. SBW Stables Theatre, Sydney. Director: Francesca Smith. 19 June – 13 July, 2013.

Winner of the 2012 Griffin Award for outstanding contemporary Australian play, Vivienne Walshe’s poetic drama of teenage angst and passion now takes its place in the 2013 Griffin season. A 75-minute two-hander, marvellously acted and intriguingly directed, This Is Where We Live makes demands on its audience. We have to work at the words we hear and at the stage pictures we see.

For not everything is made clear. There are many gaps to be filled — in the back-stories of the protagonists, in their home lives, in their very appearance. Though the main action covers six months in the country town life of 16-year-old Chloe and Chris, actors Ava Torch and Yalin Ozucelik are defiantly not teenagers. Ozucelik keeps his well-established facial hair, almost a beard; and though it’s an essential element of the story that taut newcomer Chloe is “scavenger thin” and has a clubfoot, Torch is well-rounded and never limps. In fact she very often moves extravagantly like a ballerina.

The text, too, is unusual. With only the occasional duologue, the story is told via intercutting soliloquies, spoken thoughts and memories, often very beautiful. With no help from the setting — just black walls and floor — the audience is challenged to imagine the young characters, the rural high school, the homes, the dried-up creek bed where the two form their shaky alliance. It’s almost like watching a radio play.

But, challenged to construct a reality based on the evidence of Walshe’s words, beautifully delivered by Torch and Ozucelik under the creative direction of Francesca Smith, the Griffin audience clearly had a fine time. They thundered their applause.

Frank Hatherley 

Image: Ava Torch and Yalin Ozucelik. Photographer: Peter Greig

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