Guy Masterson's Centre for International Theatre (C.I.T.). Higher Ground – 1 to 13 Mar

This is powerful theatre. A monologue, written and performed by Richard Fry, most recently known for his sell out production of ‘Bully’ which toured the Edinburgh fringe and came to Adelaide in 2010. Fry is a talented actor and writer, his perfectly constructed piece begins normally enough, establishing a wonderful context of the relationship between him and his mate, Smiler.

The show primarily tackles the issue of disability, our reaction to and treatment of it, and the impact it has not only on the disabled, but the people who know them, love them, and support them every day.

What Fry does that is important, is start from the relationship itself – not from the disability. It’s not until 10 minutes into the script that you even learn that his friend was injured by a drink driver at the ripe age of 18. We never meet Smiler, but we know him, we see him in our friends, our loved ones and our relations, and we understand the bond that exists between these two adolescent males.
The subject matter is confronting. The structure is perfection. The outcome is both heartening and saddening. Good luck holding back your tears.

Fry starts, in rocking lawn chair, hugging his pillow with a simple, joyful smile on his face. This pillow becomes a metaphor for release throughout the production. Fry utilises the space, and his physicality within the space to perfection – even a creaky floor board has its place in Smiler’s story.

Getting to know the characters is part of the joy of this production, and Fry’s intensity and concentration is unwavering, keeping you right there with the two boys throughout the duration, never once losing the audience’s attention.  Written in prose, and poetically delivered you might think nearly 50 minutes would start to drain – but the execution of the lyric-like dialogue is so exact and honest, that the audience can only relish in the delicious rhymes that inevitably end each phrase.

A show which teaches the audience, whilst asking them to ponder on some difficult questions, this show is simply stunning from beginning to end.

If you aren’t booked to see this production, then you must book yourself in this instant. A lesson we all should learn, and a show that no one should miss. Please, please – buy a ticket today.

Paul Rodda