Broken by Darwin playwright Mary Anne Butler starkly highlights love, death, grief and the randomness of life’s path.
Having literally no set surrounding the intensity of emotions being conjured on stage in Broken is probably the next best thing to having the infinite nothingness of the Australian desert outback migrated to the small stage at Darlinghurst Theatre. Director Shannon Murphy has made the perfect call in establishing her physical portrayal of the outback, for the nothing option worked beautifully! The poetic nature of the language of Broken (the play won a literary award which is something special, considering that the language was developed to be spoken rather than read) stays with you. I loved the description of a kiss that ended in oblivion as all good ones do, and also the very old-school special effects reminiscent of a radio play - bubble wrap being popped in a microphone to conjure the crackling of a campfire (worked beautifully) and gravel being scraped along the floor to evoke a vehicle breaking on a sand (not so successful).
The characters of Broken ‒ the rescuer Ham (Ivan Donato), the accident victim Ash (Rarriwuy Hick), the Ham’s partner Mia (played by Sarah Enright) who miscarries their child ‒ are all interchangeable in their loss and finding of love and pain. The focus highlights one character’s personal drama after another and then interrelates their stories to deliver this memorable work of theatre.
If you are quick you can see Broken for both a solid and intense stage production and also to experience innovative theatre that is as poetic in notion as it is in language. Love as salvation and its loss as hell on earth are beautifully presented on a stage that is empty but for three talented actors and their microphones.
(*I’m a little late with this essay as Broken’s run is over but I highly recommend you check out Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s repertoire as the plays are always excellent.)
Darlinghurst Theatre Company Eternity Theatre