Class is an integral factor in terms of determining life path, the circumstances we’re born into, forming our daily experiences and how we navigate the system. Our households, and the generations that have gone before us shaping how society views us. An exploration of this and the impact of gentrification within a once impoverished Australian neighbourhood, Alana Valentine presents The Sugar House, a timely tale spanning the late 19th century and its industrial foundations, to the mid 80s, a time of change and protest.
A topical family drama tracing the ups and downs of the Macreadie household, The Sugar House encapsulates the generational trauma felt throughout the ages – Janine Ulfane’s resilient June Macreadie the matriarchal mouthpiece openly expressing her concerns for the family’s safety, particularly when it comes to eyes of the law – herself shaken by the criminal goings on within her local neighbourhood, an activist concerned for the wellbeing of not only her family, but the world around her too.
The Macreadie family’s industrial roots serves as the show’s quietly political undertone, grandfather Sidney Macreadie (Patrick Toomey), the family’s main breadwinner intent on keeping the family together. The sugar refinery a symbol of hope and security, allowing for the family to achieve social mobility and achieve better. Valentine writes an honest, observant play, the productioon a thought provoking commentary on the issues faced within working class households and the arduous journey to achieving social mobility, if circumstances allow for this to happen.
Ulfane’s June Macreadie, Toomey’s Sidney Macreadie, Adam Fitzgerald’s Ollie Macreadie, Jessica Zerlina Leafe’s Narelle Macreadie, Fiona Skinner’s Margo Macreadie and Lea Dube’s Jenny – Ollie’s girlfriend and new addition to the family are a formidable ensemble, we’re given access to their chaotic world, a world where they’re all just trying to get by and make the most of what they have. Justin Nardella‘s visually striking white brick wall set upstage, with an elongated 12 panelled window instantly drawing us into the Macreadie’s household, bold video projections tapping into the show’s industrial spirit and showcasing Australia’s changing architectural landscape. Tom Brennan directs an energetic tale of class, generational trauma, history, intergenerational conflict, ambition and legacy – a necessary watch, highlighting voices rarely heard.
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
The Sugar House is currently showing until Saturday 20th November 2021 at the Finborough Theatre. To find out more about the production, visit here…