Years ago when I was in Year 12, our teacher brought out the script of Louis Nowra’s Summer of the Aliens. At first I thought; who wants to read a play about Aliens?, but I loved it the first time I read it and seeing it on-stage made me fall in love with it all over again.
It is not a story about romance or playful, summery days. It is gritty and dirty – set in the scorching summer heat Aussies are so accustomed to. The story is very real and so it should, as Louis Nowra wrote it as semi-autobiographical
Summer of the Aliens is written as a ‘memory play’, whereby Lewis narrates the story of his adolescence. He tells of his obsession with Aliens when it seems his peers are much more interested in the opposite sex. The play deals with a host of different issues through not only Lewis’s own story but also the stories of the people around him.
The Brisbane Arts Theatre have produced a modest, simple production of this Australian gem.
Director Susan O’Tool Cridland has favoured simplistic sets and is obvious she and her actors have worked hard to identify with the, “Real, flawed, confusing and sometimes not very likeable”, characters we see on stage.
At times the lighting seemed to leave the poor narrator in the dark but it is often hard to tell if this is by choice. Either way, I found myself having to search for the narrator once he started to speak.
With a sense of innocence and fragility, Regan Lynch’s Lewis really hit the mark for me. Contrasting this fragility was Sarah Greenwood’s Dulcie, who was vibrant and playful, everything that Dulcie should be. She and Regan had a great connection that travelled with them throughout their journey.
Grant Morrison as the Narrator has an important part to play sharing with us intimate memories of his past. Unfortunately, he seemed disconnected from his own story and it was unclear if this was the intention of the director or not.
Ben Dyson gave an exceptional performance as Mr Pisano and Uncle Richard. Ben brought us that much needed break in the tension with his clever comic timing. Also worth mentioning is Lindi Milbourne, as the bumbling Grandma and Dulcie’s catholic mother. Both of these characters told their stories with ownership and honesty.
As a lover of Summer of the Aliens, I was truly entertained by this performance. This production definitely captured the essence of Louis Nowra’s classic.