Fringe Review: "The Wind in the Underground" is more than just hot air
The Wind in the Underground tells the story of four siblings struggling to agree on what to do with their childhood home after their father has been put into care. This very topical and relatable story is told entirely through the eyes of family’s four siblings. We see the story unfold in two different points of the siblings' lives: When the four are young children, dealing with an absent parent; and later in life, when the youngest returns to the family home after backpacking during a break year only to realise that the house is being prepared for sale. These two periods in the character’s lives are told piecemeal, with the actors switching back and forth between adult- and childhood several times throughout the play. While this temporal switching is communicated well through lighting, sound and quality acting, it can be a little jarring at times.
What we do gain through such unorthodox storytelling method is a powerful look into the background of each character, which helps us to fully understand their distinct and believable personalities. It also provides delightful ‘aha!’ moments for attentive audience members to link childhood events with later adult memories. Such moments are particularly engaging for the audience, providing laughs and rich information about the characters. Whilst the family home provides the context for this story; the well-acted and written characters are the real reason to see this show. When they fight, you’ll feel uncomfortable or even angry alongside them. When they joke, you’ll laugh. When they overcome challenges, you’ll smile for them. And for every family moment, you may well be drawn back to your own childhood in middle-class Australia. Such is the performance of the actors and actresses, and the relatable topics explored in The Wind in the Underground.
The abundance of themes explored and touched upon within the 40ish-minute play is of impressive scale: Young adulthood with sick parents. The increasingly expensive housing market and choices about childhood homes. What you leave behind when you travel for long periods. Dysfunctional families and the impact they have on later life.
For such a short play, all these topics and more are touched upon in a fairly effective manner. However, you may walk away wishing Sam O’Sullivan, the writer, had chosen slightly fewer topics and explored them in more depth though. Conversely, as my partner disagreed with me on this, you may well feel that all of the topics contributed strongly to the overall storyline to round it out in a meaningful way.
The Wind in the Underground is a powerful journey through important challenges faced by families and twenty-somethings growing up in Australia. The fully fleshed out and believable characters are the real reason you should see this show though. The unorthodox storytelling method, though different, makes the show all the more interesting and enjoyable as well.
4 out of 5 stars
"The Wind In The Undergound" is currently showing at the State Theatre Centre. Click Here for more details.