A tense family drama from award-winning stage and TV writer Katherine Thomson, "King Tide" uses layers of information which are peeled away to reveal a family in deep discord.

A tense family drama from award-winning stage and TV writer Katherine Thomson, “King Tide” uses layers of information which are peeled away to reveal a family in deep discord. Tightly written and seamlessly performed, Thomson’s lifelike, challenging story represents many families’ struggles with seemingly impossible issues in which there is no right and wrong.

Two years after her son’s death in a surfing accident, Sal (Toni Scanlan) is still grieving when her brother Jack (Russell Kiefel) arrives to tell her it’s time to move on.An erstwhile investigative journalist, portrayed by Scanlan with just enough brittleness, Sal has become captive to her grief. She shuttered her city digs and relocated with her teenage daughter, Beck (Kathryn Beck), to a beach shack near the scene of her son’s death. Two years later, they’re still there, and Sal obsessively watches footage of an anti-Iraq war rally, one of the last things she did with her son.An unscrupulous businessman and philanderer, Jack is given a good measure of droll, insecure bravado by Kiefel. He’s a captain of industry with a trove of secrets, and his sister correctly feels he has no claim on the moral high ground.

Jack’s new partner Nat (Anita Hegh) is the classic daffy girlfriend. Given elasticity and terrific comic timing by Hegh, she stays a few beats behind the family’s conversations.Beck is so stifled by her mother’s stasis she hatches a plan to go and live with her uncle and his new girlfriend in the city for her final school year. Actress Beck embodies this role with impressive maturity, especially when going toe-to-toe with Scanlon and coaxing semi-invited Japanese house guest Taka (Masa Yamaguchi) into doing her bidding.

Yamaguchi does his best with an underdeveloped role, and having an external witness to the family’s implosion is clever, but Taka’s story is too thin.Alice Babidge’s minimal set containing a television screen, video camera and other living room knick-knacks suitably pads out the Stables’ intimate stage. Director Patrick Nolan pulls this world premiere production together capably, but without particular flourish.

King Tide

SBW Stables Theater, Sydney; 120 seats; A$42 $39 top

Production

A Griffin Theater Company presentation of a play in one act by Katherine Thomson. Directed by Patrick Nolan.

Creative

Set, Alice Babidge; lighting, Bernie Tan; original music and sound, Scott Saunders. Opened Oct. 24, 2007. Reviewed Oct. 25. Running time: 1 HOUR, 30 MIN.

Cast

Sal - Toni Scanlan Beck - Kathryn Beck Taka - Masa Yamaguchi Jack - Russell Kiefel Nat - Anita Hegh
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