[2013092] Thursday

[2013092] Thursday

Brink Productions & English Touring Theatre @ Norwood Concert Hall

11:00am, Tue 5 Mar 2013

The story of Gill Hicks is both tragic and inspiring: the Adelaide-born woman was the last living survivor rescued from the 7/7 bombings in London, with both her legs being amputated below the knee (and even then, she was not expected to survive her injuries). Bryony Lavery’s script is based on Hicks’ life both before and after the event; in fact, the bombing itself is almost downplayed. Far from being an blunt treatise on terrorism, Thursday is a very human story.

A contemplative opening sees us introduced to a plethora of characters and their morning routines: love and frustration and anger, all mired in domesticity. But the play twists sharply after a terrorist attack, and the characters’ lives become entwined within the confines of a hospital; motions and emotions blur, with relief and anguish and anger all on display. Rose – the character inspired by Hicks – quickly becomes central to the lives of others, as her common thread allows access to doctors and nurses and victims and the bereaved.

There’s no doubting that Thursday packs a powerful punch: Lavery’s script is chock full of believable interactions between believable characters, and even when Rose is left alone onstage there’s an ongoing battle with herself. Performances are universally wonderful (with most performers in multiple roles), and the set is a creative gem: two or three scenettes can occur simultaneously, providing the audience with everyday minutia… and, later, a barrage of grief and panic.

But the thing that I most remember now is the aural atmosphere; music was sparse and effective, but the moment of the bombing itself – rather than being a monstrous cacophony of light and sound, as one might expect – was almost muted: one moment there’s the mild discomfort of packed commuters on a train, then a blackout preceded the revelation of a pile of bodies. But that absence of sound sticks with me still, and remains a remarkable decision amongst Chris Drummond’s sterling direction.

I loved (or, rather, was left feeling like I’d seen something special in) Thursday – unsurprising, really, since Brink really knows how to connect with me. That this production couples such a powerful story (full of sensitivity and humanity both familiar and foreign) with superb performances (Kate Mulvany’s central role is absolutely wonderful) is a real work of art.

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