Review: Tender Napalm

From the very opening, Tender Napalm twists like a bite to the lips. Within this play, both beauty and brutality lie close to one another. Love and hate, violence and tenderness, are the shared blade of a doubled-edged knife.
The players of Tender Napalm are an unnamed man and woman, played by Mark Healy and Carol Lawton respectively. Outside of the immediate narrative, much of the backdrop of the relationship history of these characters is left unspoken. Instead, it simmers under the surface tension of the push-and-pull of their power dynamics. The aftermath of tragedy lies underfoot as love, sexual desire, and violence play out between the characters. Their histories are gestured at but largely remain unspoken; even at the end, you do not know the precise details of what has happened to them. Healy and Lawton carry this tension in an incredibly dynamic, believable performance. There is a real feeling of deep connection between them, both of love and resentment. Their chemistry is such that, at times, the audience is like an eye through a keyhole; transgressively voyeuristic.
The tension of this play is masterfully maintained; the interplay of love and violence depicted is adversarial and uplifting at turns – but never boring. Just when the characters seem to have plumbed the depths of animosity, something softens. Similarly, tenderness is turned to confrontation in moments. Raw emotion is tempered with biting humour. 80 minutes goes swiftly. There is a tangible sense that Healy and Lawton sunk their teeth into the meat of their roles, and it is a delight to watch. Lawton brings a pleasingly vicious delight to moments of savagery that have men in the audience crossing their legs. Healy especially impresses; the honesty of his acting during some of the play’s quieter and more emotional moments is riveting to behold.
At times Tender Napalm is uncomfortably, unflinchingly vivid, in others it is tenderly, poetically beautiful, but it is gripping in all moments. The play closes the way it opened, on a man and a woman in a quiet embrace. This is what it means love, to hold, to hate; “a bullet between the lips… without breaking a single tooth”.

4.5 Stars

 

Words by Taeghan Buggy

Tender Napalm runs from the 19th to the 29th of June at Holden Street Theatres. Tickets and times can be found here.

Peter Goers in Look Ma, No Hans!

On an impressively hot day in the middle of Adelaide’s latest heat wave, Peter Goers took to the stage to tell the audience a series of inter-linking stories that prove amusing, moving, and always engaging.
Goers is a master storyteller with an almost unrivalled ability when it comes to stories that feel intrinsically Adelaide-focused. There’s no show at the Adelaide Fringe this year that is more fulfilling of the ‘Adelaide’ part of the name.
The show feels fundamentally like sitting down to hear the yarns of a friend over a coffee or a beer. There’s something very engaging, and very personal about the way Goers goes about his show that feels essentially inviting. It feels more like an hour of sharing than a performance as Goers tells stories of first- and second-hand experiences.
It’s a simple format, built of a number of stories Goers moves effortlessly between and it benefits from that. It doesn’t need anything additional. This is an audience with Peter Goers and if you know anything about Goers’s radio show and other appearances, an additions would an unwelcome distraction.
Anyone who can hold an audience’s interest across one hour in the punishing Adelaide heat is clearly a master of their craft. We’re treated to stories about books, about a swimming pool in Turkey, and he takes time to add a discussion of war and those who have to endure it.
The show skews towards the older generations, as Goers makes mention of, but it never does so in a way that would alienate younger audiences. People of all ages should appreciate this.
At the performance’s conclusion, Goers greeted everyone as they left. It goes further to make clear how much a consummate professional he is. It also reinforces the feeling that we have been treated to an intimate hour of story-telling by a welcome friend. Look Ma, No Hans is a rewarding, generous offering from a very Adelaidean performer.

 


Words by Liam McNally

4.5 stars.

Peter Goers in ‘Look Ma, No Hans’ is playing at the Holden Street Theatres every Saturday and Sunday until the end of the Adelaide Fringe. Tickets available here.