By Joe Penhall
Directed by Wayne Chapple
With Brett Cousins, Laura Gordon, Dion Mills, David Whiteley & Richard Cawthorne
GREEN ROOM AWARD WINNER: BEST ACTOR (Brett Cousins)
Some Voices (Feb 25 – Mar 21, 2004) – Bill Perrett , The Sunday Age 07-Mar-04
Red Stitch are back for 2004, and they continue to impress with this first-up offering. SOME VOICES by Joe Penhall, is a remarkably good play. Penhall’s subject, the effects of schizophrenia on those experiencing it and those they come in contact with, may not sound promising, but in this work it becomes the touchstone for deep truths about love, loyalty and trust.
At the beginning of the play Ray (Brett Cousins) has just been released from a mental hospital to the care of his brother Pete (David Whiteley). Pete is down-to-earth and compassionate and feels duty-bound to help Ray survive outside the institution, something he feels will best be achieved if Ray sticks with his prescribed regime of medication and management by a social worker. Ray has other ideas. In the course of his wandering around the neighbourhood he encounters Laura (Laura Gordon), who is being physically threatened by her violently possessive boyfriend Dave (Richard Cawthorne), intervenes on her behalf to his own considerable physical cost and falls in love with her.
A relationship develops between them, always overshadowed by Dave’s incandescent jealousy and the fact that Ray omits to tell Laura about his condition. In the meantime, the gloriously insane Ives (Dion Mills), a mate of Ray’s from the hospital, has arrived at Pete’s place and puts more pressure on his ability and willingness to take care of his brother.
This Red Stitch line-up is very strong. Cousins’ Ray is eerily reminiscent of the memorable drug-addicted Holt he played in last year’s DONE DEAL; Pete’s patience and humanity, tested to the limit, are tellingly underplayed by Whiteley. Cawthorne is coldly terrifying as the out-of-control Dave. Gordon as Laura manages a compelling mixture of toughness and gentleness. Mill’s performance as Ives has a rivetingly messianic quality. SOME VOICES is a work of pathos, humour and insight into a common but rarely discussed condition.
Kate Herbert, Herald Sun 04/02/04
English playwright Joe Penhall captures in SOME VOICES the comedy and tragedy of mental illness.
Those who have the responsibility of a mentally ill family member will recognise the love, frustration and lack of control.
Red Stitch’s production boasts a clever and compelling script and consistently strong performances from all five actors.
The play, directed by Wayne Chapple, is set in Shepherds Bush. The walls are painted with an abstract map of the London underground. It deals with the schizophrenic Ray (Brett Cousins), who is in the care of his divorced older brother, Pete (David Whiteley).
Cousins and Whiteley convey superbly the fraught relationship between brothers whose lives have taken such different paths.
Ray prefers beer – lots of it – to his prescribed medication. He lies and deceives in order to avoid seeing his psychiatrist or taking his drugs.
His life intersects, by luck or misfortune, with Laura (Laura Gordon), a young, pregnant Irish woman, when he attempts to rescue her from Dave (Richard Cawthorne), the violent father of her unborn baby.
The numerous locations are represented by items of furniture: a table for Pete’s home, a mattress for Laura’s, stools for the pub.
My one criticism is the scene changes. There is a limit to our patience with, or interest in, the constant and frequent moving of furniture.
Get a look at this show. It is riveting.
Look for two final, poignant scenes between the brothers.