Unperturbed: a moving and accurate depiction of grief

Unperturbed: a moving and accurate depiction of grief

Father and son duo, John and Jack Kearney, have created a remarkably touching play that articulates the struggles of grief. (Image: Nevus)

By Eva Blandis | @BlandisEva

Unperturbed tells the story of how four siblings, despite their differences, come to support each other following the death of their mother. Well-articulated monologues, genius lighting, and thoughtful direction combine to create an unforgettable performance.

While navigating the unknown territory of death, Cathy, Conor, Will and Siobhan get ready for their mother’s funeral. Awaiting the return of their father from the mechanic, the characters share how they are attempting to cope with the death of their mother. Background about each sibling is revealed through cleverly constructed monologues that articulate what it’s like to experience the death of a family member. As the narrative progresses, it is made obvious to the audience that the monologues are a way for the characters to talk to their mother.

Considerate direction allows each actor to successfully tell the heartbreaking story of their character’s grief and how laughter can sometimes be the best medicine. Apt use of lighting highlights the vulnerability felt by each sibling as the pressure mounts to put up a strong front at the funeral.

The intelligent use of props adds to the natural and relatable performance. A lasagne, for example, is a symbol for the appreciated yet smothering support the siblings receive. The set mirrors the average suburban home, poignantly reminding the audience that someday, if not already, they will be in the siblings’ position. The instinctive placement of each actor within the set accentuates their acting ability.

The actors put on a remarkable show that complements John Kearney’s direction. At times it feels like the play is reality as each actor puts their heart and soul into telling their characters’ stories. The ensemble successfully shows the durable bond of families, and how siblings are always there for each other. Michael Cameron, Amy Bloink, Max Danta and Kaylie Chieco deserve a standing ovation for a stellar depiction of the struggles of grieving a loved one.

Director John Kearney and writer Jack Kearney have produced an emotionally dense play that uses humour as small intervals to break up the heavy content. This play encapsulates what it’s like to have someone close to you die, and anyone who has experienced grief can relate to each character’s individual story.

Unperturbed is showing at Bakehouse Theatre as part of the 2022 Adelaide Fringe until Saturday, March 19.

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