By Tess Bourguignon
The House at Boundary Road Liverpool is a four act play that immerses the audience in the stories of four different families, each a brief insight into their diverse lives at very different times in history. Each Act is written by an individual playwright; Violette Ayad, Thomas De Angelis, Chika Ikogwe and Jordan Shea. The writers each display both moments of family connection, the hope for a new life in a foreign country and the importance of friendship, as well as the struggles of immigrating to a country with vastly different culture, customs and language.
The show starts with a newly arrived Italian couple in 1958 learning to find work, friends, and a sense of belonging in their new home and in the heat of Australia. The 1970's brings a family from the Phillipines, Jovy and his sons who struggle between themselves to make enough money and support each other. Felino Dolloso did a great job of playing the alcoholic father without over-exaggerating, with an equally wonderful performance by Mark Paguio as one of his sons.
2012 sees Lillian and Rima return as adults to their childhood home on Boundary road where they tease, accuse, fight and talk like any other pair of sisters over each others decisions and choices they've made. Finally we see Chioma, who brings the final Act to 2019 where we see her grapple with an intense high school crush and family responsibilities as she relies on a friend to help her. Henrietta Amevor was endearing as she played the 14 year old girl, gaining great reactions from the crowd throughout her performance.
The simple set was splendid in its versatile nature that helped to transcend all generations of stories in each of the four acts. The uneven floorboards, frayed formica green chairs (that felt just as relatable in the first first Act as it did in the final Act) and the duct-taped handle of the fly-screen door that never quite shut properly.
The Lighting Design by Kate Baldwin is to be commended, namely her use of backlighting to create gorgeous beams of light through a window to illustrate the passing of time as well as helping to further reinforce the mood of each scene. Clemence Williams used sound effectively to help in the transformation of time and Acts, and almost all costumes were very tastefully chosen for their respective time periods.
Although there were small details that distracted from the production, such as the back row of the LED Par Cans shining directly into the audience, a tattoo looking very out of place in the 1950's, the printed forms used by the actors in the 70's obviously not of the correct era and misaligned skirting boards, the performance by a large and diverse cast of actors were strong and the chemistry between each family extremely believable.
The House at Boundary Road is insightful in its thorough portrayal of everyday, familiar moments that an audience could relate to, while demonstrating the harsh realities that first and second generation post-war immigrants have experienced over Australia's history.
Image Credit: Clare Hawley
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.