Boy Out of the Country

Sarah Adams

A play that welds together the theatrical with the literary, leaving you lost in your own imagination.
Boy Out of the Country

Image: L-R Martin Blum as Hunter, Christopher Bunworth as Sgt Walker and Matt Dyktynski as Gordon.  

While most theatre engages you in the moment, drawing you into what is happening right in front of you, literature leaves you to fill in the blanks, allowing you to create imagery of your own by drawing on your own memories and reference points. Felix Nobis’ Boy Out of the Country manages to bridge the divide between these two art forms, creating real-time engaging theatre, but also allowing the audience to drift off into the world of the characters’ stories, picturing many things for themselves.

The script starts off simply enough and the story structure is not unfamiliar. Hunter (Martin Blum) returns to his small country town after seven years away to find his childhood home boarded up, his mother gone, and the utopia he used to play in prepped for a new housing development.

Sibling rivalry reaches fever pitch when he discovers his brother Gordon (Matt Dyktynski) is set to benefit from the sale of the home. Conflict between brothers and over filial obligation ensues, leading both down a path of self discovery about who they once were and what they have become. The heated dialogue between the two is offset nicely by the character of Sgt. Walker (Christopher Bunworth), who mediates when the pair end up at the police station.

While some elements of the script fell flat, Nobis’ play lingers well after the final curtain call – the mark of a successful production and a tribute to its beautiful combination of literature and theatre. 

The staging was sparse, and the live music by Bang Mango Cools perfectly complemented what was happening on stage, but his presence at the side of stage for the entire performance was a little distracting.

Christopher Bunworth, who is also the Artistic Director of Larrikin Ensemble Theatre, seemed particularly comfortable in his role as Sgt Walker. Most of the audience would have been familiar with the character he was playing – the no-nonsense local policeman, nostalgic for the past  – so his apparent ease at capturing the tone and mannerisms of a country copper was even more impressive.

Matt Dyktynski and Martin Blum were excellent as brothers in conflict, with Blum in particular driving the play forward as his character struggled to cope with the sudden changes to his familiar world. Amanda La Bonte as Gordon's wife, Rachael, and Jane Clifton as the boys' mother Margaret, were also impressive.

If theatre is storytelling, this piece is successful, despite minor flaws. A solid 90 minutes of theatre that will appeal to a general audience as well as your more ardent theatre fan.

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Boy Out of the Country
A Larrikin Ensemble Theatre Production
Directed by Felix Bobis & Fleur Kilpatrick
Written by Felix Nobis

fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne
20 November – 8 December

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Sarah Adams is a media, film and television junkie. She is the former deputy editor of ArtsHub Australia and now works in digital communications - telling research stories across multiple platforms - in the higher education sector. Follow her @sezadams