Reviewer: David Doyle
The 2014 siege at a Lindt café in Sydney had a major and lasting impact on the city. With the inquest into the events surrounding the siege currently underway, Besieged, from the Sydney Theatre School, is a timely look at the events of 2014 and the impact they had. It’s a show packed full of exciting ideas but one that never quite manages to find its voice.
Devised by the company, the show explores, through a series of short vignettes, elements of the siege itself as well as the larger issues surrounding it. Text-based pieces, movement, lectures, and even some rap are used to explore terrorism, Australian identity, the media, and community responses to tragedy. Over the course of an hour the young ensemble grapple with a terrorist attack in their community and the impact it has on them. It’s a brave and exciting piece whose scope shows great promise for the group in the future.
The problem with the piece is largely down to its lack of coherent style. The show’s devised nature shines through in a way that feels fragmentary rather than cohesive. Segments aren’t neatly drawn together, and no grand narrative comes to the fore. This lack of narrative makes the piece seem more lightweight than it ought to.
Throughout the piece voices overlap as one opinion is run over by another, and in many ways, this is emblematic of the piece. A myriad of ideas and opinions that become so entwined that it’s hard to pick out any one voice. There’s real potential for a strong piece here from a group clearly impacted by a tragedy in their city. With some careful editing, and a deeper exploration of the issues the show could be a real knockout.
Runs until 13 August 2016