Together, presented by starheART theatre, is a complex exploration of the challenges twenty-somethings face in this day and age. (Image source: Together Adelaide Fringe)
By Michelle Wakim | @MichelleWakim
StarheART theatre’s Together is built on the charming premise of a lively, eclectic group of friends in their twenties coming together over a pot-luck feast. While marketed as a comedy, Together anchors itself in discussions of heavy contemporary problems.
Characterisation is the strength of this production. Each character is flawed yet lovable, annoying yet relatable, and no one is presented as either the ‘hero’ or ‘villain’, offering a nuanced and realistic portrayal of human interactions.
The cast are a cohesive ensemble, and the production is sleek in its delivery. Moments of discomfort and awkwardness – when serious and divisive discussions arise at the dinner party – are portrayed brilliantly and with full commitment from the cast.
Individual performances can afford to be physically, emotionally, and vocally heightened to fill the spacious venue at Nexus Arts; further, this will allow audiences to connect with the subtleties of characterisation that are lost on a big stage.
Tom Tassone’s performance as Winston, an initially reserved but boisterously drunk psychologist, sets the benchmark for stage presence and proves to be one of the central points of comedy throughout Together. Isabel, played by starheART founder Laura Colella, rivalled this presence as a character who offers alternative viewpoints to progressive understandings of sexuality.
The set serves the performers well, showcasing minimalist home interiors and highlighting the dining table as the hub for character interaction. The props, mainly in the form of food and drink, reflect the twenty-something demographic. Uber Eats, KFC, and a Coles chocolate mud cake earn places at the table, and a shelf of spirits sits downstage as a physical and metaphorical site of reprieve from the tensions at the table.
Together was written through a collaborative effort from all cast members. While this offers diversity in perspective, multiple voices in the writing process left themes of homosexuality, domestic violence, and childhood trauma to compete for space in the narrative: each theme is substantial enough to warrant a show of its own.
While the plot appears grounded in discussions of homosexuality within modern day Australia, themes of domestic violence are employed to mirror the conflicts that arise between the friendship group who gather around the table. Although this reflects the devastating regularity of domestic violence, this inclusion grows to overpower the central plot of sexuality, and leaves audience’s sympathies and attentions split between topics.
It must be noted that abusive dialogue in the representation of domestic violence is a regularity throughout Together. Additionally, characters process trauma on stage. Since Together is promoted as a comedy, the subject matter is particularly unexpected. Audience members should please be advised of this, and take note of content warnings prior to the show.
There is a strong market for explorations of the twenty-something’s quandaries. With refinements in writing and performance, the cast of Together show promising signs of fulfilling this demand.
Together is playing at Nexus Arts until February 25, 2021.