By Nicola Bennett
Merciless Gods takes an unapologetic stance in its analysis of the human experience. Unfiltered sexuality and the extent of human primal instincts are exposed and magnified on stage, as the cast carries the audience through a series of scenes depicting the social and psychological plights of their characters. The performance takes a poignant look at the queer community in the Australian narrative, specifically in the context of the immigrant experience. Maintaining this theme across each scenario helps to highlight the universality of these stories and their importance in modern Australian story telling.
The cast handles the rotation through each vignette with polish and professionalism, providing stark contrast between character types and settings that truly does highlight their artistic variety as performers. The shifting between different stories may be jarring for those who prefer a more traditional theatre experience, however the constant rise and fall of pace predominantly leaves the audience engaged and expecting for every new phase of Christos Tsiolkas’ storytelling. Special commendation must be given to veteran performer Jennifer Vuletic for bringing surprising comedy and depth to her characters’ personal chaos, adding further authenticity to these relatable flawed characterisations of humanity.
The show establishes an early sense of foreboding in each vignette that lingers throughout, adding to the sense of unease that is created by each character’s raw depiction. This suspense is a credit to Stephen Nicolazzo’s direction, as the performance maintains this darkened tone through each transition despite sharp contrasts between scene styles. The bare exposure of each character’s flaws and grievances is further emphasised by Katie Sfetkidis’ dramatic lighting design.
This show challenges its audiences to confront a difficult narrative and does not shy away from this task. While the confronting nature of some content is not for all viewers, those who are prepared to be challenged and at times confronted will be satisfied with their evening’s viewing. Merciless Gods features at the Fairfax Theatre in the Arts Centre, running nightly until the 10th of February.
For more information and tickets, click here
Photos Supplied by the Production
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.