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Contemporary practices of Australian theatre reflect tension
that cover artistic, cultural, social, political and personal issues and
concerns of different text. The two plays we have been studying is Life Without Me (LWM) by Daniel Keene
and Fearless by Mirra Todd. Both
plays portray tension and reveal how tension takes the audience on the
characters journeys. The three main themes in both plays are Homelessness, Loneliness and Mental health.

Homelessness is
conveyed throughout (LWM) and assist
in creating internal tension. Scene one page 5-8, this tense, argumentative
scene of John and Nigel includes Blunt repetition and short, non-helpful
answers from Nigel that emphasis his characteristics. Conflict is raised as
John is annoyed of Nigel’s naivety. Through the play the audience discovers
that Nigel’s straightforwardness causes all of the characters to break down
over the amount of negativity that occurs, and reveal their true emotions and
problems that stop them from leaving the hotel until they are resolved. The
empty hotel symbolises not only homelessness, but the fact that they can’t
leave, makes the hotel act as a self-discovery and self-revelation each
character has to conquer before being set free into the world, knowing who they
are and what life goals they aim to achieve again and be set free from

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In (LWM) page
23-24 portrays tension through the use of Symbolism. In this scene, tension is
built as Ellen wants Tom to stop showing unwanted affection. Tension is
amplified when Ellen and Tom moves towards the elevator and begin listening
through the silence for any sounds. As they lean in closer they hear a muffled
sound and causes tension, this drags the audience in to want to know what the
muffled sound is of. The muffled sound becomes clearer and the elevator door
opens and John stumbles out. A soundscape is apparent throughout the play that
includes thing elevator ting, doors opening and the bell at the desk that all
enhances the symbolic meaning of being trapped compared to outside noises that
symbolise freedom.

The character Ellen in (LWM),
page 70-71, undergoes an emotional discovery throughout tension in her life.
She realises she’s lost who she once was. The Characters and audience feel the
tension of the end of scene five when Ellen spills out the truth and worries
about not being able to leave. Tom repeats himself by saying “let’s go home” to
Ellen to reinforce that they need to leave before they get stuck there and be
in a constant circle. Symbolises the revolving door, the door just goes round
and round in circles and that’s how there life is going. The last line enables
the audiences to understand the dramatic meaning behind the hotel and the
symbolism involved. They entered the hotel because they had unfished business
in their life, and before they can go any further in their afterlife, they had
to finish what they started. They all come to the hotel for some sort of
reason, or brought there by something, or like how John got sucked in by the
revolving door symbolises the circle of life (not referring to lion King).
Before they can leave they need to let the past go and move forward in life.

In Fearless, page 45-48, Mental Health flows through the characters of the play. The
character Dogtag gets egged on and pushed by Clipper and his triggering words,
the audience experiences the tension being built and empathise Dogtag and the
confusion, hurt and anger he’s encountering. A metaphor is used within Dogtag’s
last lines to express the pain and anguish that’s been caused due to his
traumatising experience as a soldier during the war and heartache filled
memories he suffers from.

Loneliness is A big issue in Fearless. Page 45-48, expresses
this big issue. The chapter headline of “Loneliness pokes the pig until it squeals”,
gives a perception of the upcoming chapter to the audience. The character Lotte
appears during this scene due to Dogtag having suicidal thoughts. As she does
to everyone, Lotte pushes Dogtag to become more shaken by tormenting him with
cruel questions, but in a tone that almost seems comforting. Lotte is lonely so
she probably abuses her targets to keep her satisfied. Lotte’s tone may seem comforting
but she is an evil swine who torments and is very provocative. During the
scenes in the Hell Room the Tension is always raised between Lotte and her target.
The audience is made to feel nervous and uncomfortable, just like absurdism
style methods. The audience stays tense as Lotte continues to provocatively
harass Dogtag until in the final lines of scene eighteen, he gives up and
states “one last mission” before ending his life. This graphic scene results in
leaving the audience feeling upset, uneasy, scared and overall feeling sad,
lonely and empty, ironically just like how Dogtag’s life is.

Both plays explore similar and contrasting themes and ideas.
Tension is developed and explored but in different aspects. Life Without Me
takes a more light hearted approach during tense moments whereas Fearless is
more confronting and provocative. The main themes and techniques in Life
Without Me include loneliness, homelessness, metal health, ignorance,
disconnection and bringing back the idea of living in the moment. The main
themes and techniques in Fearless include mental health, loneliness,
homelessness, self-depreciation and drug use. Both plays develop specific
techniques on how to take their audience through a journey and empathise the
characters and their situations.

Contemporary practices of Australian theatre reflect tension
that cover artistic, cultural, social, political and personal issues and
concerns of different text. Tension is used throughout both plays to create
meaning of the plays.


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