HIR – MELBOURNE
HIR, Red Stitch Actors Theatre, Midsumma Festival, Melbourne, 4 February-4 March 2018. Photography by Teresa Noble: above - Ben Grant and Belinda McClory; below - Jordan Fraser-Trumble, Belinda McClory and Harvey Zaska-Zielinski
Anarchy – this is what Isaac (Jordan Fraser-Trumble) finds when he arrives back from a tour of duty. He wanted a welcome home banner; which is a bit rich as he is only home due to a dishonourable discharge and a meth habit.
Unable to get in the front door of the family home, which is blocked, he is ordered around to the back door. Where, rather than running into the arms of his mother, he is overwhelmed by a house that looks more like a Mardi Gras after party, than the bosom of the family. But, it is worse, it is a conscious state of disorder because of the absence and non-recognition of authority by all concerned.
He confronts his father Arnold (Ben Grant) who is clad in full clown face, nightie and nappy. Arnold has had a stroke and is at the mercy of his wife Paige (Belinda McClory). Her treatment of him is emasculating for him and confronting for us. It is payback for years of abuse. Then comes his sibling Max (Harvey Zaska-Zielinski) who is in transition.
Isaac has a ton of trigger points that sees him throwing up in the sink as he tries to deal with the changes in his family and family home. What is it about offspring wanting “family homes” to be as they were growing up – if those formative years were full of violence and disregard?
Isaac only knows the army way – do this, do that, do it now no questions – so when confronted with a total lack of discipline he resorts to what he knows best. Meth and cleaning.
Taylor Mac's work is black, it’s blue, it's colourful, and it is challenging. Mac tosses up the fluid gender issue in such way that you long for the time when identity and equality were the same as when Aunt Valmae was a girl.
Daniel Clarke's direction is brilliant, and the cast responds in spades. It would be so easy for the performances to be histrionic amid the chaos of the set (Adrienne Chisholm) but they're not. McClory grapples with the anarchic style with aplomb. She takes you on a journey of bastardry, of discovery, hope, and complete mayhem.
Fraser-Trumble gives us the naïf, sibling rivalry, love, hate, loss and anger; he is his father's son. It is an excellent performance. Zaska-Zielinski, full of fun and laughter within the wild ride – giving us all a lesson in gender recognition and done with such grace. Suddenly homeschooling has a whole new meaning. Grant handles the ignominy of his loss of power well and allows us to see the not-too-hidden ogre of a man who lurked before the stroke.
A great play, a great cast, and great direction. Not to be missed.