Naomi is a masterclass in acting by Patrick Livesey! By taking us into the lives of eight people associated with his mother up to her death by suicide, Livesey shares her story in the knowledge that understanding her plight may help more people to find a way out of their darkness.
In a simple black box set, designed by Xandra Roberts, only relieved by a large triangle filled with chicken wire and enclosed by lights where treasured memories of his mother are placed, Noami’s story is unravelled, set to a moody score by Biddy Connor. The stage is lit economically by Matt Ralph except for eight lights across the front of the stage to represent the people featured in Naomi’s story. In the all too brief sixty brief minutes, we are introduced to Vince, her husband, her friend Nora, her female children and her mother, among others.
Bronwen Coleman’s direction rightly focuses on Livesey’s ability to immerse himself thoroughly in the material. As he walks into each light it’s as if the character that lives in that light inhabits his body and he becomes that character for a brief time. It is mesmerising to watch!
Even though the heart-rending confessions of the eight characters have been adjusted from the original material gleaned by Livesey, the message is the same - a person in crisis.
I found myself resonating with Vince, Noami’s husband. and Nora, one of her best friends. Unable to ‘break through’ to Naomi, they can only do their best while trying to exorcise their own demons.
Another highlight (if that is the right term) is the distressing monologue from Naomi’s daughter. having to call an ambulance after finding her mother semi-conscious in bed after taking an overdose of Panadol.
At the conclusion of the performance, Livesey responsibly debriefs us before we enter the world of Fringe and Festival.
Naomi is the must-see piece of theatre of the Fringe and proves that Patrick Livesey is a force in modern Australian theatre!