By Liv Wilson
Leaves of Glass
By Philip Ridley
Directed by Wayne McPhee
The X Collective
Latvian Community Hall,
24 Church Ave,
Season plays until April 30. Bookings: https://www.trybooking.com/events/864587/sessions
Leaves of Glass is set around two brothers, Steven and Barry who have a past of secrets waiting to explode. Steven is the head of a successful graffiti removal company and Barry, his younger brother, works for him as he is struggling to get income and recognition from being an artist. The play concerns the silence which has prevailed over a traumatic incident from their childhood, which for years they have been unwilling to talk about and come to terms with. With themes of abuse, generational trauma and neglect, Leaves of Glass will leave you pondering for days after leaving the theatre.
The X Collective premiered their production of Leaves of Glass this week in the intimate Latvian Community Hall in Woolloongabba. The cast of four was brilliantly directed by Wayne McPhee who bottled up the torment of each character’s past and present remarkably.
The cast was led by Nathan Kennedy who played Steven, the older brother. Kennedy’s portrayal of Steven’s deep-set torment was delivered strongly throughout the play. Kennedy supported his character’s emotional development in Act 2 incredibly well, oftentimes with little or no dialogue. Kennedy’s acting was pensive, precise and very powerful. He really set the tone for this dysfunctional family from his first monologue of the play.
The younger brother Barry was played by Aidan O’Donnell who was the star of the show. O’Donnell’s portrayal of the deeply troubled, unsettled man was captivating. He had me in the palm of his hand every time he was on stage. He balanced English humour with several painful moments in the script very well. Aidan led most of Act 2 with his sharp acting and vulnerable performance in his final scene.
The pair had great chemistry and worked together dynamically throughout the heightened scenes, as well as the softer scenes. The push and pull of their dialogue were tight and well-rehearsed which aided in the brotherly dynamic.
The two actresses that formed the rest of the cast, Sandra Harman as Liz and Caroline Sparrow as Debbie, rounded out the show and added a compelling element of the feminine perspective.
I loved Sparrow’s portrayal of Debbie. She showcased a range of emotions and nailed her broad East London accent. This was a wonderful role for her to dig her teeth into - you could tell that she was particularly drawn to the comedic side of the role and displayed immaculate comedic timing.
Harman’s execution of her character’s inaptitude to accept the truth, the past and her own opinions were done excellently. I found her ‘comedic’ moments overplayed at times, I would have liked to see her take an approach that favoured realism rather than playing certain lines for audience laughs. She captured Liz’s relationship with Steven very well and you could see that her sharp distaste towards Barry came from a vulnerable place as a mother. Harman was excellent in her final scene of the play, she gave a very truthful performance that left the audience speechless and teary-eyed.
The tight-knit cast of 4 was able to tackle very traumatic issues in a realistic way without overacting the pain felt by these characters.
McPhee’s use of pausing was a smart directional choice. It allowed there to be space for the heavy topics to sink in. This is often something that independent theatre companies skip over, but with a fast-paced script, filled with banter and British colloquialisms, it was a welcomed choice.
I wouldn’t hesitate to see any of The X Collective’s future productions. The company's front-of-house staff were generous and highly attentive, which made the entire experience one to remember.
Leaves of Glass is playing until April 30th at the Latvian Community Hall and I suggest that you book tickets quickly because I anticipate this short season selling out.