Review: This Heaven
This Heaven is set in the outer western Sydney suburb of Mount Druitt. People living in the 2770 postcode might love the place and its diversity but surely hate how their hometown is so often maligned.
The Gordon family is the focus of this fictional drama, and part of the local Aboriginal community. After husband, father and respected community member, Robert Gordon, dies in police custody, mother, brother and sister find themselves at breaking point.
We meet Sissy, Ducky and Joan Gordon soon after they learn their lawsuit brought against the police has failed. They are understandably distraught and their frustrated lawyer has the task of informing them all avenues of appeal are closed. In fact, the other side wants to silence them with a gag order. What follows will fracture the family further as the siblings, full of anger at being denied justice, feel compelled to strike back, and their mother, a survivor of the Stolen Generations, is faced with losing her children as well.
This is 26-year-old Nakkiah Lui’s first full length work and main stage production. Director Lee Lewis has the action play out in a stark black space, empty except for a metal swing set with a broken chain that hasn’t been replaced. The coldness of the set is apt given the unflinching depiction of racism.
While the police colluded to protect officers who caused the fatal injuries, Lui also has some insight as to how the rest of us can think and act in ways that support a system of prejudice. Lui has called her play “her Molotov cocktail”. She certainly has something important to say but overall I thought this piece was staged too soon. Some passages felt like bullet points where delving deeper would have lent more complexity to the characters and their desperate situation.
For the most part it is well acted – both Joshua Anderson and Travis Cardona are excellent – and Lewis expertly builds the tension towards the harrowing final scenes.
It’s always inspiring to come across a talented new voice and I look forward to seeing more of Lui’s work on our stages.
This Heaven, Belvoir St Theatre, Surry Hills. Until March 10. Bookings: 02 96993444