Life is supposed to be a balancing act. But, it can be difficult when the negatives outweigh the positives—when the light at the end of the tunnel seems dim. Even when it seems like everything is going smoothly, life has a tendency to flip itself upside down. In the world premiere of his latest production, Harry Tobias explores the impact of a queer man’s existential crisis. Befittingly titled Horrendous, the Adelaide-born theatre maker unravels the details of his character’s frantic life. You learn about the partner he doesn’t love anymore, the friend he despises, the constant reminders of his father’s death, and the mother who lives on the other side of the globe.
Tobias is charismatic and alluring. As the show progresses, you become enticed by his words and anticipate what he’s going to say next. You can also appreciate the sarcastic tone that’s used in some of his delivery to mask the character’s unhappiness. Tobias has the ability to express the comical side of his character’s struggles, without misplacing the significance behind them. This is particularly evident in the acerbic moments that are hilariously relatable. It’s difficult not to burst out in a fit of laughter.
What this show does well is demonstrate how failure can be a moment of discovery and has the potential to offer different kinds of rewards. Through his performance, Tobias exemplifies how not succeeding can provide valuable insights that would have otherwise been overlooked. His character develops from someone who is unsure of himself, to a fighter who must build their armour in the face of infidelity. Perhaps the most compelling moment of the performance is towards the end when Tobias kneels on the floor of his empty bedroom and apologises to his late father. It shows a lot of depth to Tobias’s character, as these sorts of vulnerable moments from him are often disguised.
Overall, the lighting and sound production is simple, yet effective. However, it almost becomes a bit of a crutch as it is the only real indication of a scene transition. There could have also been a bit more cohesion, especially in the beginning when the storyline is a little difficult to follow. That being said, a definite highlight with the lighting and sound is the nightclub scene, where rapid strobes and heart thumping tunes are used to illustrate the chaotic mindset of Tobias’s character. It also takes a certain level of sophistication to constantly interact with voiceovers, and Tobias does this swimmingly.
Horrendous will resonate with anyone who’s feeling a little stuck at the moment, as it proves that no matter how awful life may seem, it can always get better. Tobias takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster, as one moment you’re laughing, and the next you’re quietly trying to hold back tears.
Reviewed performance: 19 February 2020