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Unconditional 

The world premiere of Cameron Hurry and Sean Dowling’s play “Unconditional” is a thought-provoking exploration of love, identity, and change. Under the mentorship of Playlab Theatre's artistic director, Ian Lawson, and the direction of Brian Lucas, this new work is a must-see for the 2023 Brisbane Festival season.

Following a fumbling, yet endearing dance behind a blurred wall, the two lead characters take their places to their respective chairs on each side of the stage. Audiences get to know He, a cisgender man, and She, a transgender woman, individually through a separate marriage counselling session where they express their viewpoints through subjective monologues.

 

Dowling’s performance is organic and nothing short of exceptional. She embodies the complex journey of a woman who experiences pain, love and freedom as she navigates her own identity beyond her marriage. This play goes far beyond the debate of trans individuals' right to exist. Downing’s character challenges the misconceptions and misunderstandings of trans experiences, maintaining unwavering confidence in her journey. In light of a recent Australian news segment spreading fear-mongering material on trans narratives, Unconditional illuminates the absolute necessity for a trans voice to tell a trans experience.

On the other hand, Hurry delivers a compelling portrayal of a rigid yet exuberant man who treasures his thirty minutes of post-work decompression. As a proud "Gold Star Gay," his dream of a perfect marriage shatters upon discovering his husband has begun transitioning without his knowledge. Once more, we observe a multifaceted queer individual, not a sensationalised representation. Hurry's poised and articulate characterisation mirrors the obsession with control and provides a captivating counterpoint to Dowling's performance.

The script, written by Hurry and Dowling, serves as a strong backbone to the outstanding performances. Both playwrights have intricately woven humour, authenticity and metaphors into the conversational-style monologues evoking a unique tone for the work. Listening is ever-present throughout the piece; the counselling context is a vessel for vulnerability, difficult conversations, and listening. As Hurry's character offhandedly calls his partner she or remarks a misunderstanding of White Whale, pivotal moments of self-revelations entail; listening—both to others and to oneself—is powerful for discoveries.  

Both actor's performances are nothing short of exceptional in this new work. The impeccable writing is a testament to placing queer artists in control of queer narratives. I cannot praise this work enough and offer my gratitude to the whole team for producing such work.

"Unconditional " performs until Saturday, 9 September 2023 at the Brisbane Powerhouse.  Click here for tickets and more information.

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Bridie Middleton
(She / Her )

Reviewer

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