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Australian Arts Review

August 5, 2018

“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.”

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