First seen three years ago in the Studio, where it received its UK premiere to critical acclaim, David Williamson’s award-winning drama returns to the Royal Exchange, but this time in the main house.
However, the intimate Studio setting, which afforded the audience a close proximity to the action, is difficult to replicate in the larger auditorium. The main problem facing the director is that, because this is a conversation between eight characters sitting in a circle, it’s mainly sedentary.
Williamson based his work on the Australian practise of transformative justice, where the families of victims and the perpetrators of the crime meet to attempt a resolution. In this case, they are linked by the horrendous crime of rape and murder.
A new cast, in this ensemble piece, sees Jonathan Hackett and Margot Leicester make an impact as the grieving parents. Susan Twist and Colin Prockter are an equal match as the compassionate mother and uncle of the killer. While Kellie Bright and Paul Stocker, as his brother and sister, point up the repercussions on all of them.
Christine Stephen-Daly is the psychiatrist in the flawed judgement to release the rapist too early and Stuart Bowman is the stoical mediator.
This is a harrowing story with its themes of guilt, retribution and the hope of forgiveness. It’s to the credit of the riveting text, Jacob Murray’s sensitive direction and first-rate performances, that this powerful work held the audience for its full 90 minutes.