Review: Tender Napalm

Want to see the theatrical equivalent of an atomic bomb?

Tender Napalm explodes with the full-force and power of a nuclear bomb. Two actors, two chairs and a stage are the only requirements.

Tender Napalm

Every moment of this La Boite and Brisbane Festival production is gripping and edge-of-your-seat!

Unknowingly, I bought a ticket to see Tender Napalm on the final night of Brisbane Festival, which concludes with Riverfire. So whilst others are heading to South Bank, I’m heading to the Roundhouse theatre at QUT Kelvin Grove. I love the Roundhouse theatre, the seats are arranged like the Theatre of Dionysus so that the seats encompass the stage in almost complete wrap around (those Ancient Greeks knew a thing or two about architecture and theatre – who knew?!).

Initially, I thought that this show would feature much more props, judging by the promo pics featuring LED lights. No matter. This is raw, contemporary acting and dance. This is a mature play – highly extreme sexual content, explicit language. This is not for the faint hearted. But with that, comes real emotion, exposed for all to share.

Ellen Bailey and Kurt Phelan feedback off each other’s energy to give their all into their performances. They miraculously manage to perform action scenes whilst still shouting and controlling their dialogue. No easy feat! There’s minimal use of music which really puts Bailey and Phelan under the spotlight to make sure they are flawless and yet graceful in their execution. Smart use of the performance area and the wonderful use of human movement is a testament to choreographer, Australian Dance Theatre Artistic Director Garry Stewart as well as La Boite Artistic Director David Berthold.

Playwright Philip Ridley is not one to reckon with. His storyline shifts from reality to fantasy with such fluidity that you’re easily absorbed into the complicated love story at the centre of this play. As emotionally dramatic as this play is, there is enough lightness and comedy to make this performance so ridiculously enjoyable. The finale rushes to such an outstanding conclusion that the audience are at first speechless and as emotionally drained as the two lovers.

Tender Napalm pinpoints all those emotions of first love and devotion. Allowing audience members to relate down to the heart, even if we don’t quite have to battle sea monsters, have an army of monkeys or encounter aliens.

Romance, sci-fi, action. Hold onto your military helmets, this performance
has it all.

Tender Napalm

Season ends 13 October so make sure you get in while you can! Tickets start from $22 and you can get them from here.


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