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  • Isabelle Hill

Review - Hir

Park Theatre

Playing until: 16th March 2024



Review {AD-PR Invite}

Felicity Huffman reclaims the stage in Taylor Mac's audacious and unsettling play, Hir, playing at the Park Theatre. This unconventional drama serves as a potent exploration of identity, trauma, and the complexities of family, fueled by the cast’s captivating performance.

 

Paige (Huffman) has seized control of the household following her husband's stroke, reshaping its dynamics with no remorse for the impact her behaviour is having. Her son Isaac (Steffan Cennydd), returning from the battlefield, finds himself a stranger in his own home, grappling with the unfamiliar power structures and his mother's unwavering convictions. Meanwhile, his trans-masculine sibling Max (Thalía Dudek) has opened Paige’s eyes to the possibility of the world; creating space for shifting tides within the family unit. Paige also uses her power to belittle and emasculate her husband Arnold (Simon Startin), adding more layers of complexity to the mix.

 

Huffman delivers a powerhouse performance that anchors the production. She embodies Paige with a captivating presence, radiating her unbreachable convictions. Yet, the audience can understand and observe the flickers of vulnerability that hint at the deeper emotional complexities simmering beneath. Huffman navigates these feelings with skill and artistry, creat a portrayal that is both commanding and deeply affecting.

 

Cennydd portrays Isaac's confusion and simmering resentment with a raw vulnerability that resonates deeply. Dudek brings a quiet strength and emotional depth to Max, navigating the character's journey with sensitivity and nuance. This combined performance with Huffman shows the audience their perfect envisaged futures and the lack of ability they have to consider that outside their house the flawless world doesn’t exist.  Startin's portrayal of Arnold, caught in the chaos of family dynamics, adds a touch of humour and grounding to the narrative.

 

Hir tackles a multitude of complex themes with a blend of humour and unflinching honesty. The play delves into the intricacies of gender identity, the lasting impacts of war trauma, and the ever-evolving expectations placed upon families. Mac's script masterfully prompts audiences to confront uncomfortable truths and challenge preconceived notions. The dark comedic elements provide moments of levity, but never overshadow the weight of the underlying themes explored.

 

While Hir undoubtedly provokes thought and conversation, it is not without its shortcomings. The play's unconventional narrative, while initially captivating, can occasionally feel meandering, leaving certain plot threads underdeveloped. The dialogue sometimes felt as if it was tackling too much, and leading the focus onto larger important conversations, therefore grappling to retain focus on the story.

 

Despite its shortcomings, Hir remains a production worthy of attention. Huffman's commanding performance, coupled with the play's exploration of complex themes, make it a thought-provoking and often unsettling experience. While the play may not always fully deliver on its ambitious premise, it undoubtedly sparks conversation and lingers long after the curtain falls. Ultimately, Hir is a testament to the power of theatre to provoke, challenge, and leave a lasting impact.


Creatives

Writer: Taylor Mac

Director: Steven Kuni

Set and Costume Designer: Ceci Calf

Lighting Designer: Ryan Joseph Stafford

Sound Designer and Composer: Roly Botha


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