Truth; Stories from the West Side

Truth; Stories from the West Side is a rollercoaster of very well executed emotions, snapshot of life in the western suburbs without any manipulation, satire or parody. It is a play presented at  the Riverside Theatre, Parramatta by Actors Centre Australia showing from the 22nd of November through until the 1st of December. Performed by a cast of strong and powerful actors who perform their roles with integrity and justice, the dialogue is taken from actual interviews, the inflections, diction and intonation lifted directly from a factual interview. Yet, the production rings true as a play, rather than a documentary. Each person on stage has a separate and equally significant story to tell but the cleverness I’d like to draw your attention to is in the seamless editing of the tales to form the script for a play. The actors portray raw and powerful performances, each with a genuine authenticity and together, their stories weave fluidly together to present a holistic play- the truth of the western suburbs. Not only do we respect the actors for their performance and the interviewees for their stories, but through the play as a text we learn to love the characters.


Some of the material is very raw and evidently quite painful to the interviewees and the actors handle this well by employing well placed silences throughout, captivating our attention successfully, with the aid of humour and colloquial language. While this is the case, the show is not at all taxing on our emotions, (as the audience). Due to the chopped and edited nature of the show, each experience is credited its due time and attention. For example, we are shown how deep a character’s sadness or pain is, then we a cut very quickly to another experience, or even some comic relief. This doesn’t at all degrade from the intensity of the initial experience rather, through perfect timing, shifts the focus of the play from their unique experience, to the fact that their unique experience is part of a whole Australian culture. Some of the content may be considered offensive as the characters expose their existence in the fabric of their locality and at times I was worried the show may borderline mockery/satire. But it never did. Each actor brought an air of sophistication and a professional integrity that lifted the performance and gave me respect for the proud, optimistic and uncensored stories.


On a production note, the mis en scene and lighting was minimalist and quite fantastic, our focus was drawn to the stories and the way they weaved together to create a diverse yet communal western suburbs experience. We are left loving the characters because of their self-reflexivity and ability to show humility. We learn to respect them because each character had a certain vulnerability and an emotion that motivated and drove them, shaped their being. Ultimately there was a positivity and a flair that when weaved together, produced a heart-warming tale of survival in the western suburbs. The characters are endearing and they hold sadness and bitterness but they carry on. This performance is insightful and well worth a look at the glimpse of diversity, culture and experience.


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