Red Stitch Actors Theatre is presenting the Victorian premier of Detroit by Lisa D’Amour. Director, Tanya Dickson answers a few of our questions.
Tell us about the context of the play
The title ‘Detroit’ is used as a symbol by the author to inject a sense of anxiety in to the work from the outset – a metaphor suggesting the death of the American Dream. The play is not placed in Detroit but rather in Middle America, as the playwright outlines ‘a first-ring suburb outside any mid sized American city’. I enjoy this description as she is communicating that the themes are not directly related to a specific place but to larger cultural and political concerns. There certainly is a sense of feeling trapped – by circumstance, by addiction, by society, by the economic climate, by your ‘stuff’. The notion of starting from zero is complex – it is both liberating and terrifying.
Suburban isolation is often explored in the Australian experience, do you see parallels?
I do see the ideas explored in Detroit as drawing parallels with the Australian experience. Suburban isolation and loneliness are big ones, and of course economic uncertainty, class division and disillusionment with the quotidian.
The neighbour relationship in Detroit is an unlikely union where two very different couples come together despite circumstance. Neighbourliness and community are explored as concepts from another time: as archaic notions. It looks at how human connection is being sterilised by Capitalism and Consumer Culture. I do see this relationship in the play as possible in an Australian context as the concerns and desires of these characters are global.
Why should people come and see the show?
Come and see the show for some outrageous fun but also some quiet reflection on contemporary culture. How far away are we moving from ourselves, from human’s basic need to connect?
About the play
Ben and Mary are battling through life in a suburb struggling with economic downturn. When Sharon and Kenny move in next door they do the neighbourly thing and invite the newcomers to a barbeque. So begins a somewhat unlikely friendship. The couples’ vulnerability brings them together in a delirious, dangerous frenzy of unleashed inhibitions and risk.
The Obie Award Winning, Pulitzer finalist play is an unsettling investigation of middle-class aspirations, suburban isolation and the divide between rich and poor.
Detroit opens August 28th. Tickets can be purchased here.