A beautiful story, cast and space. Don’t miss this world premiere production of Justy Kosek’s Against the Wall.
Against the Wall follows the six-generation story of a family and a home. The script explores broken temporality and family history in a similar way to Andrew Bovell’s When the Rain Stops Falling and S. Shakthidharan’s Counting and Cracking. Like both of these plays, Against the Wall follows a non-linear progression of narrative, as opposed to chronological. Kosek’s script, however, is probably more similar to Counting and Cracking because they both follow the epic theatrical form. Both plays are grounded in familial drama by exploring temporality and the cyclical nature of family issues that have become entangled through time.
The characters were all very well developed and performed. I particularly appreciated the dynamic women represented on stage; each female character had such nuanced depth. Brought to life by the incredible actresses, these female characters were a breath of fresh air. They were not perfect; they were perfectly imperfect. Absolutely not archetypal, these women felt real to me.
Victoria Little and Isabel Kruse, who played Emily and Dianne respectively, embodied the intense emotional turbulence, tension and love between siblings that I’m sure many of us can relate to. Ella Proberts’ performance as Maggie was exceptional. I was surprised to read that this was her professional theatre debut because she was so brilliant and just filled the space with her booming stage presence. I can’t flaw her performance; it was wonderful, and I look forward to seeing her in future productions. Proberts’ romantic tension with Pierce Gordon–who directed the play and played Leo and Mike–was electric, intense, and raw. They effectively encapsulated two characters in a relationship hanging by a very tattered and loose thread, and they did so with such emotional passion that I felt deeply for the sides of both characters equally.
The space used for this production was a small residential apartment in Windsor, and it suited the performance beautifully. I genuinely felt transported to a tiny family apartment in New York, which I think is also accredited to the sounds of the busy main road bustling outside. The space was cosy and homey. At times I was so engulfed in the story, I felt that I was intruding on private moments inside a real family home. I will note that because of limited space, audience seating was quite compact. I think for me, however, this just added to the overall experience of being a part of the characters’ intimate moments and highlighted the characters’ own feelings of claustrophobic desires to escape.
Due to the generally extended structure of the epic form, this play was very long. On the Anywhere Festival website, it lists the play’s time as 2.5 hours. I would say it’s probably a little closer to 3 hours. Towards the end of the play there were some pacing issues, and I struggled to keep my focus. I think that I was not mentally prepared for the second act to be longer than the first, mainly because this is not what I am used to, and my attention did begin to fade off for a bit. For this reason I feel that it would have benefitted from a longer intermission or perhaps a second intermission. The second act had a few scenes that were somewhat repetitive, but these were amongst some other really standout moments. Although the length was a slight downfall for me, I believe it’s important to acknowledge that this certainly allowed for an extremely nuanced creation of character and story.
Overall, this play really forced me to examine my own family dynamics and the beautifully rich history and stories that must be within my familial timeline that I may not even be aware of. It must be so exciting to be part of the creative team presenting the world premiere of such a beautiful script. I highly recommend seeing this play while you can! Against the Wall only has a few more performance evenings planned, and due to limited capacity, I would recommend booking now to avoid disappointment. If you are unable to get to the venue, don’t fret, for one night only (Thursday 20 May) Against the Wall is offering an online livestream performance. Offered as a ‘Pay What You Can’ ticket (ranging from $10-$40), this is a super affordable option to see this performance.