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28 juin 2007

Osama the Hero

Osama the Hero is a disturbing examination of modern society.

Xavier Samuel plays the naive 17-year-old Gary

Genre :Theatre
Location: Carlton Courthouse
Address: 349 Drummond St, Carlton
Date: 21 June 2007 to 7 July 2007
Phone Bookings: (03) 9347 6142

When 17-year-old Gary chooses to do his school hero presentation on Osama bin Laden, he probably should be ready for some sort of reaction. There has been a spate of fire bombings on his local housing estate, and Gary - with his alternative views and knack of being in the wrong place at the wrong time - fits the bill of scapegoat to a tee.

What he cannot foresee is that a bunch of dysfunctional vigilantes will smash his face in with a hammer. The lack of proof is neither here nor there, as one of his torturers points out, "with terrorists you don't need evidence". And so the hammer blows rain down, like so many nails in the coffin of social tolerance and respect.

Osama the Hero, by British playwright Dennis Kelly, is a disturbing examination of modern society, where the vacuity and breakdown of social values breeds a climate of immorality and fear - and as Peter Gabriel noted, fear is the mother of violence.

Dennis Kelly's 2005 play received its Australian premiere last year at the Old Fitzroy in Sydney in a fine production by new company The Rabble, and is now being presented by La Mama.

The Carlton Courthouse theatre space has been transformed by Kate Davis' all-white design, which ramps up the metaphors of purity and innocence, then brings them crashing down as the floors are stained with blood and mired with guilt. Director Syd Brisbane keeps the pace bouncing along with nervous comedic energy in the first part - making the audience all the more vulnerable to the sickening violence that follows.

Xavier Samuel is an effectively naive Gary, Thomas Wright brings a speed-tinged mania to Francis, and Hannah Norris manages to invoke the image of Abu Ghraib guard Lynndie England in her portrayal of Louise, the ringleader in Gary's torture. Kevin Hopkins is very good as the 50-year-old Mark, acting out a fantasy relationship with teenage Mandy, sassily played by Jessie Beck.

The final section is a little cliched in structure but the monologues are still affecting, including Louise watching decapitation videos and Mark distracting himself with cooking tips. Never has salmon teriyaki seemed so unappetising.

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