Printable CopyUS/THEM
The Adelaide Festival
The Space
Until 12 Mar 2018

Review by Luke Wagner

Our modern society has seen a great deal of tragedy as a result of acts of terrorism. The post 9/11 world is one of heightened security and a culture of fear that has led to dramatic changes in the way our society goes about routine processes. One challenge in this new world has always been how to explain this to children and this piece does exactly that. It removes the taboo and objectively and in detail tells the facts of terrorism.

In 2004 the siege in Beslan, Russia saw more than 2100 people taken hostage and held for over three days, resulting in 334 deaths – almost half of whom were children.

The writer and director of “Us/Them”, Carly Wijs, has created a thoughtful and provocative piece of theatre that openly and honestly tells the story from a child’s perspective. This is done with a great deal of tact and sensitivity, but also with the power and impact that it rightfully needed to instil the gravity of the situation.

Gytha Parmentier and Roman Van Houtven are outstanding as the two performers telling the story. They turn the dark, empty stage into a school through a series of chalk outlines, and then turn that into a warzone, whilst maintaining their complete focus on their roles. Both are incredibly impactful performers and they allow the audience to completely collapse into the story.

Theatre is meant to hold a mirror to society and challenge out thoughts, and this play does that brilliantly. It creates a unique perspective and a strong way to open a conversation with children about these types of events that occur and to understand the gravity of life in our modern society.