A minimalistic stage, made murky by a snifter of smoke, keeps audiences keen while the Tron-esque set pieces are moved into position creating an eerie blue gloom.
Parents Nick and Lia, played superbly by the emotive Rachel Nash and captivating Stephen Lovatt, have lost their 20 something son Adam to an unknown fate while on his O.E. Shelagh Stephenson’s latest outing is surprisingly relevant to modern day. With kids jetting off to join ISIS, cocaine smugglers being captured at airports and unlucky tourists sipping coffee next to the latest car bomb, Adam’s whereabouts and livelihood are open to wild speculation.
The simple props and backdrop make it seem like Nick and Lia are stuck in some kind of purgatory. For the past three months they have lived in a realm where Adam is neither confirmed dead or alive. The arrival of an Adam lookalike, played by Jordan Mooney at his hair-tugging best, only confirms their son was gay but little else. At this point, the plot becomes highly reminiscent of the 2012 doco The Imposter which follows a similar trajectory about a boy who goes missing only to be replaced by a similar boy which the family accepts as a consolation.
The fiery exchanges between Nick’s stoic, but loving, stepfather and Lia’s utterly distraught mother are acting at its best while exchanges between Lia’s father Gordon, Joyce, the medium, and Joanna, the misguided journo, form integral background fare which perfectly compliment the main storyline. It is no secret that director Andrew Foster has assembled a talented cast, but the fact that they are a cast who are well cast only makes the drama increasingly watchable and not unlike something one might see if a wall were removed from their neighbour’s house.
The paradoxical climax brings the woeful story full circle but still feels a little ambiguous. However, if Lia and Nick can’t find closure, why should viewers?
Enlightenment is the best production I’ve seen in the past two years at Maidment Theatre. It’s packed full of sparky anguish and wit, as well as a few dark comic episodes, the cushy seats assembled just beyond Lia and Nick’s living room are the place to be this winter.
Reviewed by Nicholas Brookland