THEATRE REVIEW | COURAGE TO KILL
By Maria Dunne
Niclas Salomonsson, a famous Swedish crime writer, once said that Nordic Noir is “realistic, simple and precise… and stripped of unnecessary words.” Courage to Kill, however, which was written by Lars Noren, was far from it. The predictable and long show overworked actors such as Stephen House, and seemed to be continuously shouting until the play was over.
The premise of the show is a modern rendition of Orestes, an Ancient Greek play that plays on the complexities of the relationship between a father and son. After the death of his mother, the young man must tread carefully to avenge her death.
Although it was interesting to see this timeless play interpreted in these confronting and intense scenes, the play overall relied too heavily on the ambiance of the sound and the tension created by the actors to carry the play rather than Noren’s own playscript.
Noren formerly said, ‘I want the audience to share the same space as the actor. I want small rooms.’ La Mama’s production was able to manage this successfully. Director Richard Murphet’s blocking opened the actors up to the audience and invoked a gateway of seeing oneself in the characters. However, for others, this gateway was blocked by Noren’s one-dimensional characters.
Tamara Natt, who portrayed Radka, for example, did an exceptional job. Her facial expressions were very coherent with the performance and her ethos on stage had the audience captivated. Her character, however, was to play the role as the femme fatale, pushing the tense father and son relationship to breaking point. Her character was only used to create a catalyst towards the drastic action Erik takes to his father, Ernst.
For the audience, Natt fell flat as her character was discernable from the start. Every character was a cliché: the sexually frustrated old man, the troubled son and the woman used only for her body could all be spotted in the first few seconds of the play. The play ended like reading a book when your best friend has spoiled it for you. You still want to read the book but when the dramatic reveal occurs you are left disappointed. It was extremely frustrating as the end sequence actually was amazing – the thumps of the drum representing Erik’s mind ticking, the blocking of the characters as they gave each other eye contact, the dialogue. Yet, it was two hours too late.
This play was not stripped of ‘unnecessary words’ or was as ‘precise’ as Nordic Noirs are famous to be, but it did show a realism between father and son. The chemistry between these two actors, Luke Mulquiney and Stephen House, should be commended highly, as without it this production may have fallen flat. This play is definitely not for everyone, but it does have an amazing production team who have worked effortlessly to make this new addition to La Mama’s Autumn season.
Maria Dunne is a writer from North Coburg. Before writing for the Northsider she wrote freelance for The Big Issue and Buzzcuts.