Review of Flood by Elise Lawrence

Put on some bug repellent, gather around the campfire, and join in this grippingly uncomfortable one-act play by Chris Isaacs.

Review of May 23 performance, by Elise Lawrence.

Emma Lamberton + Brie Jurss will present Flood at the University of Queensland Great Court on May 17-18 and 23-25. More information is available on the event page.

Put on some bug repellent, gather around the campfire, and join in this grippingly uncomfortable one-act play by Chris Isaacs.

Six friends from Perth are reunited for the ultimate camping trip – two weeks in the bush, in the middle of nowhere, next to a pristine lake. But after less than twenty-four hours things take a dark turn. An Indigenous man appears, yelling at them to leave the sacred place they have accidentally encroached upon. Things become heated, and the man is murdered.

Saddled with the guilt and recurring memories of the horrible deed, they make a pact to conceal it. Such a terrible secret cannot remain buried, though, and extreme weather means that the truth of their crime quite literally resurfaces. The latter part of the play explored the event’s impact on their lives, although the conclusion was non-committal for all but one character.

Isaacs’ characters are authentically Australian, and the actors that embodied them did an excellent job across the range of emotions required, creating believable characterisations. Campbell Lindsay stood out as Steve, proving a versatile performer as his character changed the most dramatically over the course of the work and delivered some of the most intense monologues about the event and its impact. The fight choreography was also exceptionally well executed.

The script incorporated some beautifully wrought imagery of the Australian outback, and the play attempted to unravel themes of racism and colonialism, as well as the idea of ‘untouched’ or ‘undiscovered’ beauty in a land inhabited for tens of thousands of years. Flood also explored ideas of the damaging effects of silence and, by extension, of national guilt and refusal to take responsibility for the horror of the past. However, some of these threads felt unfinished, or unresolved.

The lighting and sound design was impressive for the outdoor space, and the sandstone walls of the University of Queensland provided ringing acoustics for the most dramatic scenes. There are a range of seating options (and you are invited to bring your own) but I’d recommend placing yourself as close to the action as possible, sitting on a beanbag or the ground, to really immerse yourself in the performance.

Please note: This performance is rated 15+. The performance is outdoors, and it gets cold at night – dress warmly, and you are invited to bring a thermos of hot drink and/or your own food.