Cyber-love soapie-tragedy begins 2012 tour with a sharp dagger to the gut.
I Love You, Bro began its 2012 tour last week at the Street Theatre Canberra with enormous energy and vigour. A simple and striking set (Renee Mulder) allowed the audience to sit around the stage and close to the sole actor, Leon Cain, who treated us to a modern day cyber soap opera.
The story, based on a real incident between two teenage boys, begins with a key into the outcome – a potentially fatal stabbing of Johnny. Johnny jumps back to the memory of the first meeting of his unlikely friendship with Mark on an internet chat site. The world these two create, one knowingly and the other gullibly, is an insightful journey into the modern tragedy of human masks. Through manipulation and a need for acceptance and social status via celebrity, this drive uncovers Johnny’s real need which leads to desperate measures.
Adam J Cass’ script is tight and focused. He deftly juxtaposes the dichotomy of ethical and moral dilemmas with overwhelming human desire in the teenager. Much of the humour was obvious but the audience lapped it up. Still, there were moments of truly unexpected wit that elicited bursts of uncontrollable laughter. The only oddity was the use of heightened contemporary language in the beginning that, while worked well to make the audience engage quickly, never returned. There was a moment of Berkoff about it that was exciting, but ultimately disappointing.
David Berthold’s direction keeps the events pacing along with moments of pause that allow the audience to catch a breath and sit with the memory of our teenage selves. Carolyn Emerson and Guy Webster’s lighting and sound design heighten the drama without drawing attention, as there is no need to cover any blemishes here.
Leon Cain has performed this piece since 2010, receiving awards for his work along the way. He is a physical and driven actor that doesn’t let the audience out of his sight. Opening night lacked some subtlety that Cain can bring to this work, but it was opening night of the first tour. This was evident with a call for a line within the first ten minutes. However, his professionalism shined through as he took the audience straight back into the fantasy. Moments like these are the joy of theatre with its immediacy and liveness.
In The Foyer:
Older members of the audience where intrigued with the insight they were given into the current teenagers experience of love and communication based primarily over the internet. Parents were reminded of their fears and discussed what were going to try in order to attempt to safeguard their children from the dangers of digital life. The twenty something’s discussed their own experiences of naivety in the cyber universe. Everyone enjoyed the production immensely and where shocked and reminded of their own teenage endeavours for love and acceptance.