A Little Bit of Pain Never Hurt Anyone

A Little Bit of Pain Never Hurt Anyone
Adelaide Fringe Festival 2018. Periscope Productions. Holden Street Theatres/The Arch. 15th Feb - 4th March, 2018

Part of what makes the Adelaide Fringe Festival so exciting is that it provides a vehicle for showcasing new writing within theatre.

In A Little Bit of Pain Never Hurt Anyone Melbourne-based playwright Brendan McDougall has produced a very personal play about what shapes us, as he puts our childhoods under the microscope, however painful that may be.

What is pre-determined in who we are? Are we destined to become our parents? Not all influences we experience as children are positive; they can have the power to instil fear and anxiety.

In McDougall’s play these concepts are tackled in a way that has you reflecting on your own childhood and adult behaviours.

Britt Lewis is divine as Billy, capturing the inner child with a layered performance that tugs at the heart-strings. Julian Dibley-Hall is Jess and encapsulates the young and older versions of his character with confidence. Both actors have a wonderful chemistry, essential given the raw subject matter.

Director Benjamin Sheen has done well to not overplay the plot, allowing the audience to connect with the characters at different stages of their development.

The staging is simple, but effective. We are introduced to the younger versions of Billy and Jess through puppetry. This ingenious idea works very well. As the characters age, the stage opens out into a giant sandpit. Simple props and sublime characterisation make the transition from child to adult believable.

McDougall’s play is not wrapped in a tight red bow for you. The ending poses more questions than it answers, but it is perfect. We each have the power to change the narrative, to pick and choose how our childhood will affect us as we mature.

This is a beautifully thought-through piece of theatre, its sentiment connecting with an attentive audience.

Kerry Cooper

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