Three strangers while away the night in a lonely bus shelter on the edge of a small town in regional Queensland. They drink, talk, wait and wait for a bus that never arrives.
Dayne (Lucas Stibbard) is a white teenager looking to escape the isolated village where he lives with his parents and works in their gas station. Doug (nee Dimi), played by Hayden Spencer, is an angry, thirtysomething, second-generation Aussie salesman who, through his eagerness to fit into Australia’s predominantly Anglo society, has failed to come to terms with his Greek heritage. After a disappointing sales trip, he’s catching the bus home to a nearby town. Macca (Aaron Pedersen) is a twentysomething alcoholic aboriginal who may or may not have just been released from jail, but nevertheless likes to think of himself as “hyper-intelligent and visionary.”
Like a haphazard and occasionally menacing choir leader, Macca unites the trio in a fiesta of boozing, smoking and rapid repartee. With Dayne looking on, Macca avoids revealing too much about himself by quizzing the others. With particular glee, Macca zeros in on Doug’s many entrenched vulnerabilities and, through a series of conversations and psych games, makes Doug angry, confused and never far from erupting into violence.
This tension holds Brown’s superb script together, but it slackens in the final act and the play tumbles somewhat shambolicly to its conclusion.
Brown’s particular achievement in “Ice Cream” is his ability to articulate the challenges facing disadvantaged Australian men, be they teenagers from isolated towns, aborigines or second generation Aussies who bear the weight of their parents’ sacrifices.
Though the play is set in the fictional town of Mayoonderie, its themes are wonderfully universal, enhanced significantly by top notch perfs from Queensland thesps Stibbard, Spencer (in particular) and established TV drama thesp Pedersen.