Because There Was A Fire

Because There Was A Fire
By Jamie Hornsby. Adelaide Fringe Festival 2019. Jopuka Productions (NSW). The Breakout @ The Mill. 12-16 March, 2019

Jopuka Productions’ Because There Was a Fire is by local Adelaide playwright Jamie Hornsby and is a very welcome part of this year’s Adelaide Fringe Festival.

It is being performed at the small new intimate theatre venue called ‘The Breakout’ at The Mill Creative Centre on Angas Street. It is absolutely well worth seeing and good to support this company from New South Wales as well as Jamie Hornsby, one of the most dynamic and interesting new playwrights from South Australia.

This is an Australian psychological thriller that is bit like a ‘road movie’, not too dissimilar to films such as Terence Malik’s Bandlands, Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, and Warren Beatty’s Bonnie and Clyde. Indeed, ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ are the psychopathic killers that the two main characters most identify with in this taut little 1 hour play.

Clara (Gabrielle Brooks) is a young girl living in a country town with her father. When we first meet Clara, in a dazzling monologue-come-prologue, she is discontented with everything – home, school, girlfriend, life – everything! She meets a newcomer to the town, Andrew (Beau Wilson) and together they escape the town and embark on a savage journey of sheer mayhem in order to be ‘self-reliant’.

This involves brutal robberies and ultimately, murder. You think they may have got away with all this, however this story isn’t that straightforward – there are some fantastic twists to this seemingly simple plot that will make you gasp with surprise and wonder.

Because There Was A Fire is presented by Jopuka Productions from New South Wales under the Artistic Directorship Joshua Maxwell, who also operates as Stage Manager. It is tightly and extremely effectively directed by Danielle Brame Whiting, with two absolutely terrific performances by Gabrielle Brooks and Beau Wilson. I am not sure where these two actors were trained, nonetheless, one of the reasons why their performances are so good is that they have ‘voices’ and use them, as well as their bodies, with wonderful dynamic expression.

This is an early work by Jamie Hornsby and reveals a lot of the reason why he is steadily becoming a major voice in new Australian playwriting. The words come ‘trippingly off the tongue’, full of wit, imagery and depth, which is given excellent rapid-fire delivery by these two actors. It is truly marvelous.

Highly recommended.

Tony Knight

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