Subiaco Arts Centre: The Big Picture

The Big Picture at the Subiaco Arts Centre, production directed by Jenny McNae, a well known W.A. theatre identity, delivers a crisp and swiftly paced theatre experience.
Subiaco Arts Centre: The Big Picture
The Big Picture at the Subiaco Arts Centre Multi award-winning New Zealand playwright and poet Jennifer Compton presents feisty and unexpected humour while dealing with a common theme of her writing: women’s suffrage, status and the politics of motherhood in the latest offering from Perth Theatre Company (and in association with Agelink), The Big Picture. Joy, Fran and Mandy, single mothers living at the end of the road in a neglected country town, are winning the hand-to-mouth struggle to live, love and raise their children. They support each other with jokes about Tupperware and faithless men as they fight with hope the realisation that they are trapped in a cycle of poverty and despair. When Joy’s brother Guy arrives in town on a motorbike, there are unexpected repercussions. Guy and Mandy spend the night together and rifts develop, leading to disastrous consequences. The rifts rapidly intensify, poisoning the relationships within the group – between siblings, between bosom buddies and between lovers. Violence erupts as existing alliances are thrown into disarray and new bonds are established and then broken. Compton proffers in The Big Picture a convincing portrait of a community bound neither by class nor geography – these are not all country people. The women are socially displaced and their geographic isolation highlights the extremity of their plight. Agelink’s philosophy of ‘producing plays that inspire us because they add to the richness of human experience’ with The Big Picture they have really contributed a compassionate and rich production convincing us to look beyond the statistics of the Australian community. The Big Picture production directed by Jenny McNae, a well known W.A. theatre identity, delivers a crisp and swiftly paced theatre experience; a style befitting the relationships that embody the play. The realism of the drama is not shied away from as a violent sex act is handled with discretion, and the explosive meltdown of Guy (Stuart Halusz) very, very convincing. This production is well served by all actors delivering great performances from Renee Newman-Storen’s earthy, and lovable Joy to Kate Rice as Mandy who is vacantly funny within her world of misguided loves. The rapport between the characters sharing ‘shorthand chat’ revealed shared damage and this is a credit to the actors for bringing their expertise to serve this well-honed script. The set by Brad Reid is realistic and appropriately grimy bringing the underclass country setting claustrophobically encroaching on the audience’s psyche. An unforgettably raw and humorous play that lays bare life’s joys and hardships, The Big Picture is loaded with real country humour – contemporary Australian drama at its best. The Big Picture Dates: 21/03/2009–04/04/2009 Venues: Subiaco Arts Centre 180 Hamersley Road, Subiaco

Gillian Clark

Tuesday 24 March, 2009

About the author

Gill Clark is an arts hub reviewer based in Perth.