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Adelaide Fringe 2013


Damien Richardson

Genre: Mainstream Theatre

Venue: The Producers Bar - 235 Grenfell St, Adelaide


Low Down

The Producers Bar, Grenfell st, gets a remake, as a back room is the stage for this intimate and gripping look at life in a jail cell. The set is small, realistically resembling a typical cell. Stairs lead to the outside world and nothing more than a bench and toilet are the comfort for the prisoners.


Three very different men from very different worlds spend a night together: Myerhold (Damien Richardson), a petty criminal with a bad childhood, Jason (Wil Ridley) a well-off University student who got caught at an orientation party exhibiting some “anti-social” behavior and Murray (Andrew Mabbott), a plasterer struggling to come to terms with his Aboriginality.

As the story unfolds for each character, the conflict between the three grows more and more intense. Without being in your face obvious or full of clichés, the trio does a good job in holding their characters with conviction and integrity.

Playwright and actor, Damien Richardson holds the cast together well (many may recognise him from television roles in Jack Irish and City Homicide). Richardson plays a wired, quick tempered, practically insane and repugnant yobbo; a character you love to hate. Myerhold has had a terrible childhood and hasn’t quite grown out or out of it. He takes much joy in playing taunting childhood games with his cellmates where the young University student, Jason is typically faced to burden the most of it.

Ridley’s portrayal of Jason is remarkable, strong and powerful. Caught in a situation where his academics mean nothing and can’t save him, Jason struggles to cope with a night behind bars. Ridley did well to explore the range of emotions, taking the small audience through a terrifying real journey of the fear many have of what goes on behind bars. 

Mabbott’s role as the Aboriginal plasterer is also good as he balances the intensity and insanity of Richardson’s character and the fear of Ridley’s. Murray tells his story of growing up believing he was Maori, only to be told as an adult that he is Aboriginal. He now spends his adult life coming to terms with his culture and the impact of social racism and the questions of identity. 

All three have their own fears and insecurities to deal with, and their issues are often exposed in confronting and uncomfortable situations.

The position of the audience being in such close proximity to the play was at times challenging and awkward; but then again that is probably the point. I question whether it is necessary to include a drunk Indigenous character in jail as this just seemed too cliché and buying into negative perceptions of this culture group. Another character from another culture faced with the same issues would have added just as much value, if not more.

Lockup raises questions about societies views on race and identity and exposes how denial of our true selves could ultimately lead to disaster. The themes of Lockup lead these three characters to their breaking point where for some there is no return.