By Neil LaBute
Directed by Wayne Pearn
With Dion Mills, Eloise Mignon & Geordie Taylor
Set: Peter Mumford
Lighting: Stelios Karagiannis
Stage Manager: Julian Camara
In a Dark Dark House (July 22 – August 22)
Kate Rose, Sunday Herald Sun 02/08/09
Neil LaBute does not write likable characters. Best known for film adaptations of his plays, LaBute was established early by In the Company of Men as a writer with no interest in the gentle, polite, or easily accessible.
Instead, he writes about a world where the lines between victim and bully are blurred, right and wrong don’t exist and humans are selfish. In A Dark, Dark House is true to form.
Terry (Dion Mills) goes to visit his younger brother, Drew (Geordie Taylor), in a rehab centre for drug addicts after the self-destructive former lawyer was busted drink-driving. But Drew didn’t ask Terry there for a family catch up, he has a favour to ask: could Terry just tell the truth about the past for him, to the hospital and the judge, please? But truth is a tricky concept much like love, betrayal and revenge and owning up to it was never going to be easy.
Red Stitch regular Dion Mills’ Terry is almost unbearable to watch as anger, fear and nervousness wrestle just below the surface of the tormented character.
Shared with Geordie Taylor as the cocky, pathetic Drew, the bookend scenes of this triptych are where the story unfolds, but they tend to veer towards the over-written and over-wrought. In their bleakness they lack the sinister inevitability of the bridge between them.
As it plays out, the meeting between naive 16-year-old mini-golf attendant Jennifer and Terry appears random, but is intrinsically linked to the brothers’ past and future.
Eloise Mignon is perfect as Jennifer, positioning her character between an arrogant child and a curious, foolhardy, sexual adolescent.
It’s her childishness that gives Jennifer the audience’s sympathy in a way so few of LaBute’s characters do and consequently her scene is far more affecting.