Adam JA Cass’s I Love U Bro is a fascinating play and for a myriad of reasons. I walked into Parramatta’s Riverside Theatre knowing only that the play was a La Boite production – as a former Brisbane-ite I respect their work – and that it was about an online chat room situation that goes horribly wrong. I walked in believing this to be an excellent premise and I was not disappointed.
To begin with the positives, the production has found an excellent exponent in the form of its lone player Leon Cain. The script does not do a good job distinguishing between its many characters – there is an awful lot of entangling “he said/she said”. Cain, however, alleviates this difficulty by crafting such vibrant creatures for each of the personalities he portrays that there are very few moments that it’s not a joy to watch him work.
The play, a drama by description, took about two scenes to reveal its true nature as what I can only describe as cybernetic Grand Guignol. It’s plot moves with melodramatic devices common to a day time soap opera and with equally vapid dialogue – rendered fascinating thanks to the indefatigable Cain on stage and the use of modern online “speak”.
“LoL’s” and “Woots!” abound as the script takes it’s protagonist (antagonist?), a troubled fourteen year old boy in heavy denial about his sexuality, to increasingly ridiculous places. Leon Cain in turn begins to flounder as the play drags towards its close rounding twist after twist and leaving him little alternative but to scream and chew the scenery.
During it’s opening lines, I Love U Bro claims to be a true story. And yet, even as child of generation Y and an avid participant in the social media revolution of the past twenty years, I didn’t believe it for a second. As vivid as Cain rendered the lives and false lives being spun on stage and on computer screens before us, the plot spins out of control into something without rhyme or reason, despite an early pledge that it’s hero would end up as “a big something”.
Part of the problem with I Love U Bro, I think, lies in its label. Drama is just not an accurate description of the story it has to tell. This is a melodrama pure and simple and furthermore I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Given the way we communicate in the 21st century, this genre can only become important to the theatre in the years to come – and this play makes a bold move into this new territory. All in all, it remains a very entertaining evening in a theatre and all perplexities aside, I walked out of the Riverside enthralled and sensationalised.
I love U Bro is well worth a look in. It has its problems, yes. Mostly I think if it took itself a little less seriously, it might allow itself to be a lot more fun. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to check Facebook. Xoxo Gossip Girl