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Photo by Alexandra Nell

Lambert House Enterprises, developed with the assistance of Playwriting Australia (PWA) present FLOOD, by Chris Isaacs, at the Old 505, Eliza Street, Newtown, 9 November – 19 November.

FLOOD, by Chris Isaacs, is an Australian play first presented in Perth, in 2014.

Six young white youths, three women and three men, take off for a camping break out in the wilds of Western Australia. Just driving without a clear mapping identity they find themselves kind of lost and end up setting up camp beside a pool, having disregarded a signpost laying in the dust. Bush noises, kangaroos, imaginations, spook the experience of the night in their tents and they, relievedly, in the light of day strip off naked and plunge into the pool only to be confronted by an aboriginal man questioning why they are there, what rights they thought they had in being there. An incident occurs and the youths flee the location, home to Perth, where the emotional aftermath haunts them and throws them into a state of guilt – putting them into a further tragedy, off kilter. It is a story of the ignorance of the young and the careless sense of proprietary rights they have to the land of Australia. Says Mr Isaacs: “It’s a play that looks at implicit racial bias and the tribes we choose to align ourselves with and the outcomes of those alignments.”

Although the form of the writing is that of a choral face-front storytelling mode, as if enacting a short story for us, which I have come to resist, the content of the writing was intriguing enough to overcome my personal prejudices. I was drawn into the material and gained an enveloped identity in experiencing the ‘stakes’ of the episodes.

The play is acted by a group of personable young actors with enthusiasms that sometimes are a consolation for the variable quality of their acting skills – their vocal skills, for instance give a lot of shouting and not much nuance in the use of range. Compensatory, as well, is the Direction by Charles Sanders, who has a great sensitivity and steady-hand with the characters and the material’s content integrity – all the actors draw affecting characterisations under his guidance and the writer is placed centre of the exploration. The Design elements, Set and Costume, by Stephanie Howe, Lighting, by Lachlan Hogan and Sound by Charles Sanders and Lachlan Hogan, original music by, Johnny Daylight Lacey, all make gentle contribution.

Producer, Les Solomon, found this play while browsing the internet, coming across it by default, since other international choices had become unavailable for him to present. He says:

FLOOD jumped out at me. It is a wonder to me that this play has not already had a Sydney showing, so I am excited and pleased to be able to make this happen.

I am excited and, truly, pleased that he found this Australian play because the writing is fairly sophisticated and arresting. Deserves attention to be paid. “FLOOD jumped out at me.”

That Mr Isaacs was in 2012 a member of Griffin Theatre Company’s inaugural StoryLab group, and that he was a recipient of the inaugural JUMP mentoring program (2010) under the guidance of mentor Kate Mulvany, and that he has won awards both for FLOOD and IT’S DARK OUTSIDE and a nomination for a Helpmann Award in 2013, ought to alert the Griffin and Belvoir, the Sydney Theatre Company to this young man’s writing. Certainly, this play supersedes some of the quality of the work I have seen on the Griffin stage of late.

This is a modest production of a writer of some potential. I recommend that you try to see FLOOD, this week, before it closes.

The actors are Elizabeth Burley, David Harper (excellent), Olivia Jubb, Aaron Lucas, Chandel Rose and James Wright.