Been | HIR

Entwined with the mediocrity of middle-class America, yet with confronting and combative issues of gender play, war and the reality of domestic turmoil,  ‘HIR’ is a play with layers of colour and depth, it disrupts the status-quo whilst challenging the idea of the ‘nuclear family’.

Arlo Green, plays the disillusioned son returning from duty in war-torn Afghanistan ….  His experience with an array of broken soldiers, both physically and mentally, has left him yearning for some solace, yet upon returning home and being greeted by his incredibly fractured and disjointed family, the hopeful serviceman is left defeated.

NZ Theatre stalwart, Rima Te Wiata is at her most impressive, as the disparaging, cruel and at times thoroughly spiteful, matriarch Paige.  Supported equally at best, by her formerly abusive husband, however now reduced to a mere shell of former self – Arnold (Nathaniel Lees).

Adam Rohe, completes the dysfunctional family unit as the gender-transitioning Max, a sullen and impressionable teenager burdened by the sheer tyranny of his mother who reigns over the household,  while his depleted and despondent father now just lurks, an empty being.  All three characters; Issac, Arnold and Max;  exemplify the varying state and meaning of masculinity itself , as the emasculating Paige exercises her now wilted down person and cynical viewpoint upon them all …

Nathaniel Lees character,  Arnold is played to perfection.  His presence is observed, even through his many scenes that are without dialogue.   He never loses pace; as he stares vacant into the TV screen, absently eats fried chicken in a nightgown, and in the one last scene, completely loses all dignity (and continence) after a physical and mental showdown, one that is spurred on after a revelation of home truths.

The play’s setting echoes the decor of shows that mirror the lives of the struggling white middle-class/red-neck America and those with questionable education and boredom with mundanity of everyday life.  The series, ‘Roseanne’ springs to mind, with the well-worn sofa and makeshift crocheted throws.  Right down to the tacky fish-inspired stickers on the fridge and the weathered Venetian blinds; the set is convincing with it’s purposeful lack of class and ambience.

HIR, created by Taylor Mac – a remarkable individual, in the way they themselves perceive and carry out the idea of gender and convention, is directed by the detail orientated and insightful Sophie Roberts.  It is a poignant play that reflects our modern society and pushes us to feel the angst and chaos, through broken dreams and power struggles which befall this family, in particular; the now sadly disillusioned Issac.  As theirs is a reality that is not too implausible within our modern kith & kin …

HIR- with it’s harrowing and at times, deeply dispiriting subject matter, with notes of sardonic humour throughout,  is reminiscent of a Tennesse William’s tragedy, and is just as successful at drawing in and engaging with it’s audience.  However morose and jarring the effect may be.

HIR is part of the Silo Theatre and currently showing at the Herald Theatre:

*** Until 25th August