‘F#$*ing Parasites’: Child’s Play

Editor’s note: due to the name of the play, there will be expletives in the following review:

The La Mama theatre in Carlton has an excellent track record when it comes to allowing the best and most unrecognised talent on its stage. Being at the forefront of independent theatre, though, means that sometimes experimentation gets in the way of message. Any ideas with value get lost in a storm of high concepts and strobe lighting.

Fucking Parasites arrives at the perfect balance of art and ideas achieving a poignancy not often enough brought to life in fringe theatre. The message is strong and everything from the playroom set, adorned with children’s toys and lego furniture, to the decidedly creepy atmospheric soundtrack feels like it’s there for a reason.

As part of the Nordic Noir festival featuring works for screen and stage from Scandinavia, La Mama featured Swedish playwright Ninna Tersman’s Fucking Parasites in its Australian debut. It’s the story of Bahar (Asha Khan) and Irina (Elizabeth Esguerra), two teenagers caught in the midst of war and policy. Imprisoned in a refugee detention centre as they both wait for the news that will either grant them access to a life free from fear or send them back to one drenched in it. The two talk of the things they’ve seen, what they are running from and the pain that awaits them if they’re deported.

They converse through games they play with each other. Toy syringes and stuffed toys illuminate prisoner treatment, and dress up games highlight the hypocrisy of detention centre workers. The two teenagers dress up and act as the people around them including the sadistic nurse, the ‘impassioned’ filmmaker and the disenfranchised and helpless boozehound lawyer pleading for the refugee’s asylum. It’s an interesting idea that plays with the corruption of innocence through unjust institutionalisation.

It’s heavy stuff that speaks volume to the conversation happening in Australia at the moment, it all hits so close to home which is interesting considering it was not written by an Australian. It’s eye opening in the fact that granting asylum is obviously not an Australian issue but a global one. We seem fully aware of the troubles that plague those that do seek asylum but we insist on treating them like criminals. It’s this issue that strikes at the heart of Fucking Parasites.

No countries are named and all nationalities are stripped away. All that remain are these two teenagers who are those hit hardest by detention. The two young performers give chilling performances, lending their talent and voices to those suffering in detention. It’s all done with grace and tact.

Go see Fucking Parasites while you can, it’s a play that is elegant in its solemnity. It’s a powerful reminder not to forget what is happening under the auspice of our security and safety.
Fucking Parasites is playing at La Mama Theatre (205 Faraday Street, Carlton) until the 8th of May.

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