A title as suggestive as Naked and Screaming sets you in for a hot and steamy play. Instead, playwright Mark Roger delivers a two-person psychological thriller about parenthood. Brace yourself because it gets dark!
Jackson McGovern and Emily Burton in Naked and Screaming. Photo by Morgan Roberts.
Playwright Mark Roger' Naked and Screaming is a play that must be seen, so I won’t give away spoilers about the plot. But I do want to comment on how the play openly and honestly tackles the challenges of becoming parent, the gender dynamics of parenthood, and the difficult conversations around family planning – abortion included.
Simon (Jackson McGovern) and Emily (Emily Burton) are a young, happy, and seemingly progressive couple. Having a baby confronts them with gendered and social expectations, and the disastrous consequences of failing to meet them, especially for Emily.
The plot evolves over the first year of life of Dylan, the newborn baby of Simon and Emily. The story moves fast; propelled by the dynamic acting of Burton and McGovern, but it never gets messy or confusing. In fact, it's easy to follow the progression of the story. And while the story's tempo is fast-moving, the audience is allowed the time to feel the complicated feelings evoked by this play.
'The play openly and honestly tackles the challenges of becoming parent, the gender dynamics of parenthood, and the difficult conversations around family planning – abortion included.'
The light and sound design accompanies the stream of emotions evoked by the play very well. A funky tune opens the play and sets the story in motion. Silence and darkness create the environment to experience the hollowness of despair and hopelessness. And bright flashes of light emphasise the abrasiveness of frustrating conversations.
La Boite’s round theatre worked particularly well in this play which exposed 360 degreed the intimate life of Simon and Emily as new parents. Burton and McGovern move well on stage together, and their acting was realistic, even in the over-dramatic scenes.
Read: Exhibition Review: False Sense of Security, The Lock-Up
Naked and Screaming sanctioned the re-opening of La Boite after productions were suspended last year due to COVID-19. La Boite generously offered drinks, food, and live music via a DJ to celebrate – and to help the audience swallow the heavy themes and emotions of Naked and Screaming.
Emily Burton in Naked and Screaming. Photo by Morgan Roberts.
This play is a must-see; giving the audience an incredible canvas to view the many sides of parenthood – through sunshine and rain.
It offers prompts to initiate difficult conversations among those who are thinking of having a baby, and for those who are healing from the wounds of having had one already. I would also invite the audience to reflect on the role of Emily’s mother who is a ghost character haunting the life of this couple.
5 stars out of 5 ★★★★★
Naked and Screaming
Playwright: Mark Rogers, Director: Sanja Simić
Cast: Emily Burton, and Jackson McGovern
La Boite Theatre, Kelvin Grove QLD