Visy Theatre - Powerhouse
25th November 2015
'Heavenly Bodies & Beautiful Souls' is an interconnected doubly bill of plays written and directed by 'The Bard of Brisbane' Sven Swenson and presented by Pentimento Productions.
The first of his plays I have seen but my attention was grabbed when I saw him collecting one award after another at the most recent Matilda Awards. He was also responsible for 'The Truth about Kookarburras' which had a smash run here that I had meant to see but lacked friends to go with.
Well the first play 'Heavenly Bodies' set in Singapore in 1942 opens with what we thgought was an unfamiliar Noel Coward song "Put That Sailor Down" which turned out to be Sven singing a composition by multi talented Peter Crees whose piano playing you could hear throughout. Peter was also associate producer and I have seen him as actor, viloinist etc before.
I really do not want to say what happens in this room in a brothel as bombs explode incessently outside, but what begins as a nervous meeting between a naive, sweet and just charming soldier from the bush Sam Ryan and a quite stunning Laidie, Regan Lynch, offering comfort to the soldiers, develops as they open up and expose their thoughts and feelings until nothing is left to hide including complete, comfortable and honest nudity. It becomes one of the most tender and beautiful pictures of people coming together as loneliness and fear overtake them in a foreign land.
Ofter interval we are thrust forward to a prison in Thailand where three young people, Zac Boulton, Peter Mickey Norton and Casey Woods, are facing that most horrible and barbaric of punishments. The connection with the first play will be revealed slowly and with tenderness although they do not have to be seen together. There is great love and some innocent humour, but terrifying fear is the overwhelming atmosphere as the noose hangs ominously above their heads. I can not praise too much the strength of acting throughout and actually wondered how they could maintain the physical expression of such anguish without passing out from the shaking and the hyperventilating.
The designs by Raymond Milner are in stark contrast with each other and so evocative of the mood. People have called these works some of the greatest Australian theatre and I saw 'Beautiful Souls' has had seasons in both New York and Los Angeles'