Media And Industry Reviews
MEDIA/INDUSTRY – full reviews
“The prison for boys at Point Puer, near Port Arthur, was the first of its kind in the British Empire. Thousands of boys, some as young as nine, were separated from adult male transportees in the 1830s and taught religion and trades in the hope they could be turned into worthy citizens of the new colony. Had the guards not been violent and illiterate crims in their own right, it just might have worked.
Alaine Beek’s play about a tight group of boys and a guard (who is a friend of the lead boys’ father and is secretly charged with looking after the lad) manages to be historically responsible, educative, psychologically credible and entertaining to boot.
Point of No Return is a naturalistic piece, an exceptionally well-made play, and Beek directs it like a screenplay. Will McDonald and Alex Roe are compelling and charismatic as the pack leader and his second-in-command, but all the actors are set challenges, none more stratospheric than the guard’s scene with his mongrel dog. Phil Cameron-Smith’s performance has an eye-of-the-hurricane focus.”
Chris Boyd, The Australian
Alex Roe was tremendous in the role of Bones, giving a compelling, grounded performance of a complicated man.
Australian Arts Review
Phil Cameron-Smith gave a brilliant performance as Hawkins, a dark, percussive character trying to survive as much as his charges are. Australian Arts Review.
“The actors deliver highly convincing performances in which the depth of their bond and affection is apparent. A play worth seeing.” Antonia Kent, Pop Culture-y.com
“I was fortunate enough to see an early iteration of Point of No Return in 2014. What’s wonderful about this production is seeing how the text and performances have developed.
The play is based on a real detention facility for boys 10-20, near Port Arthur in the 1800s. It focuses on an imagined tight group of inmates and how things change when a new lad arrives and is forced to join them.
It’s a slightly unfortunate space in the Spiegeltent, but the cast navigated it well. Despite having to run up and down stairs to get to and from the wings, they kept a good pace. Admittedly, the piece did get too declamatory in places, and the characters’ penchant for shoving and lapel-grabbing needed tempering, but each of the cast showed great physical commitment and worked excellently together.
William Farnsworth played the new fish, Jeremiah. William charting an agreeable course for the audience to follow as Jeremiah goes from being spurned by the group to becoming one of them. Jeremy Withers was suitably simple in some ways as the sickly Ardy, presently nicely a sympathetic character who may not be wielding one of the larger intellects, but certainly has one of the larger hearts.
Alex Roe was tremendous in the role of Bones, giving a compelling, grounded performance of a complicated man who’s main talents (besides theft) are brutality and cunning.
Will McDonald did terrific work as Red, the group’s leader. In the earlier version of the play, Red came across very hard on his boys, meaning later emotional moments between them felt unearned. Here though, Will’s performance is pitched just right, showing a firm leader whose displays of toughness are ultimately about survival for all of his boys and not just himself.
However, in terms of dealing with issues of trauma and compassion, the boys’ guard, Hawkins, has the most to wrestle with. Phil Cameron-Smith gave a brilliant performance as Hawkins, a dark, percussive character trying to survive as much as his charges are.
Point of No Return is a lovely piece of short drama that deserves support as it continues its Victorian tour.”
David Collins, Australian Arts Review - 5 August 2018
“On the evening of Saturday 23 April, I had the good fortune to attend a performance of Alaine Beek’s Point of No Return at the Wyndham Cultural Centre. I write in support of this engaging new historical drama. Much has been written and documented about Australia’s convict heritage but little of the boys sent for rehabilitation to the Point Puer boys prison near Port Arthur, Tasmania. The play focuses on a group of six boys and their struggle for survival in a hostile and brutal environment. Every character’s journey through the drama is crafted with aplomb by Ms Beek to create a compelling, moving and sometimes humorous story that is a triumph of the human spirit. As well as one adult male role the play offers six roles for young men or teenagers. Point of No Return is a play that has the possibility to tour, be staged by professional or amateur theatre companies or even schools. I have no hesitation in recommending Point Of No Return for production or publication.”
Andrew Blackman Director Complete Works Theatre Company
“Alaine Beek’s “Point of No Return” not only shines a light on a little-known aspect of Australia’s dark convict past: remarkably, it also manages to paint a nuanced portrait of male relationships, especially between those teetering on the verge of manhood. The dialogue is heartfelt and funny, the tension palpable, and the onstage action often surprising and fierce. Although the situation is outside most people’s direct experience, the audience can easily identify with the characters and become totally engrossed in the world that is being created before them. This is a truly beguiling piece of writing that also translates effortlessly onto the stage.”
David Tredinnick – actor, writer
“It has been my great privilege to work on Point Of No Return with Alaine Beek. Most Australians are aware that the first convicts from Britain were sent to Port Arthur, but this play depicts a very little known part of our rich history, the boys prison at Point Puer just across from Port Arthur. The first attempt by the British government to rehabilitate prisoners.I relished the opportunity to play the role of Hawkins, the guard responsible for a group of lads within the prison. The role is extremely well defined and complex. Hawkins is an ex-prisoner from Port Arthur and is conflicted within his role as disciplinarian and protector.
There is so much to love about this play. All of the characters are beautifully defined, something our audiences always commented on. It is a part of our history, as opposed to the kitchen sink dramas, cop and hospital shows we are bombarded with (is that all there is to us?) and the youth element is one to which our audiences were riveted. The hardships these boys faced, the risks they, as boys, would take and the lengths they went to in order to survive are all so compelling to the viewer. Point Of No Return is a play with extremely wide appeal and it must be said that this is achieved without the sacrifice of substance. It is immensely entertaining. There is a wonderful balance of danger, tension and humour. It is very moving.”
Phil Cameron-Smith – actor (and cast member)