A friend or relative of yours is unwell but you can’t reach them. They are pushed right to The Edge and you don’t know if they will return to you or be lost forever. But this story isn’t about them…it’s about you and all of the little things that led to the moment of catastrophe. Nick Choo‘s unique and memorable production of The Edge is not as dark or depressing as one might think – people keep dancing around the subject matter as though it’s going to bite them on the nose, yet The Blue Room production is a great way to address depression, suicide, and a host of mental illness issues that are plaguing today’s society.*
The Edge is ambitious – originally produced in Malaysia as part of Choo’s burgeoning musical career, it’s been adapted and worked on for roughly ten years. Now, in the hands of Director Levon Polinelli the work seems perfectly tailored to Australian audiences. Polinelli and Designer Sara Chirichilli‘s set is pared back and simple – it allows for the cast to tell the story through their own characters and song style. This is a highly character-driven show, beginning with the entire ensemble of six standing in formation and addressing the audience with a powerful piece about how ‘Another Day’ can be so different to one person, but the irrevocable pull of time will render it just another day.
Each character, from the brother Jarod (Emerson Brophy) to the childhood best friend, Mike (Philip Lynch) is connected to the one character Josh who is literally standing at the edge of a precipice – about to jump. Each character relays to the audience how they may have contributed to putting him there. It’s a completely different take on the usual ‘suicide story’ as most of them focus on the actual person, not the impact on the people around them. Brophy’s unrestrained emotion as he sings Josh through the major points in his life is heart-wrenching. As is Claudia Van Zeller‘s stunning performance as the grieving mother. It is clear that Josh is the absolute favourite, and it is interesting to see a character both controlling and completely at the mercy of her young son. She sings of the absolute unbridled joy she finds with her new fiance, but is willing to sacrifice it all for her spoilt son.
Perhaps the one element I would do differently is the miming to Josh – the characters vacillate between narrating their memories to the audience and miming to a void that represents Josh onstage. I feel this is perhaps a little trite, and could have been addressed a little less clumsily – in fact the most powerful moments occur when ‘Josh’ is the audience – or at least supposed to be ready to leap at any minute at some point behind us. There is a cohesion to all of Choo’s composition – a unique soundscape that threads and weaves its way through all of the characters, representative of Josh himself – each of the characters sing similar music but with just enough accents and flourishes to represent their own unique voice within the work.
There is so much going on in this work – from the girlfriend who feels like Josh is rushing things (Madeline Shaw) to the room-mate and best friend who would have liked to take things to the next level (if you know what I mean!) (Tate Bennett.) There’s even a concerned co-worker and coffee shop girl (Grace Johnson) who’s impressive voice laments other people’s reluctance to see beyond their noses and help someone in need. As a whole, each of these characters slot together to form a puzzle – an image of Josh on the edge. Whilst epic in scale, The Edge is elegantly simple, with clever and relevant music – there are no huge showstoppers here, but this doesn’t diminish from the absolute talent on show in this ensemble that compliment each other beautifully. As for the warnings – I would urge you to go and see it, although there may be more than a few lumps in your throat.
Review | Laura Money
WHEN: 29 May – 9 June 2018 | 8:30pm
12 – 16 June 2018 | 7:00pm
WHERE: The Blue Room Theatre | Northbridge
INFO: Tickets $20 – $30 | Duration 2 hours | 10 minute interval | Content warning: themes of suicide and mental health | Recommended 15+
*Crisis support and suicide prevention is available. Call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.