“Nice people make matter,” says Luv in Save For Crying. Call La Mama NOW and book because it’s beautiful and uncomfortable and funny, because it will be sold out and because it’s a gut kick reminder about why theatre matters.
Angus Cerini wrote and directed Save for Crying. Cerini writes about people and lives that educated, inner-city, latte-drinking theatre goers (like me) are more comfortable avoiding, ignoring or buying a Big Issue from. He says he writes about bad stuff and what we do about it and tries to answer it in the “art stuff” he makes. Like the bad stuff in life, there isn’t a clear answer and Cerini never gives ones. Instead he leaves his writing in a much stronger and more disturbing position where we question our own lives and the bad stuff we turn away from.
Walking into near darkness, it’s easy to feel uneasy and also easy to distance ourselves from the action of these people in a cell who are not “one of us”. The genius of this work is how is it creeps up on us until there’s no comforting distance and it has become our story.
Luv (Peta Brady), and Alfie (Ben Grant) have their share of bad stuff. They know that five dollars isn’t enough for fish and chips, but they can keep it from Ratspunk (LeRoy Parsons) who “everyday he does the not nice things”. Each performer is so embodied in their character that there’s no time to admire their acting; so much that their “real” selves final bow is a sharp jolt back to reality.
The artistic collaboration on this work has made an astonishing script an unforgettable show. As the actors create broken souls, the design (Marg Horwell) and lighting (Rachel Burke) hide and reveal action and characters in ways that the mere words of a script can never achieve and Kelly Ryall’s astonishing music and sound design is almost inseparable from the words.
And Cerini’s words are as beautiful as they are disturbing and terrifying. He writes with a language that plays with word order and strips away everything that isn’t needed. In the wrong hands, it could feel forced, but it sounds natural in this world. It’s a language that is pure emotion and makes us feel the pain, hope and humiliation that these people are trying so hard to block from their lives, without forcing us to justify, over-think or even completely understand what’s going on.
Save For Crying is confronting theatre told with humanity and guts. Don’t regret missing it.