Words Alexandra Jonscher
Brunt ran at 107 Redfern from August 16-18, 2018.
Brunt is a critical exploration of masculinity that challenges young men to closely consider their own behaviour when there is no one there to call them up on it. Starring an all male cast, the show shines a light on the nature of the contemporary “Aussie bloke”, grappling with questions of individual morality and identity in the face of the force of systematic gender norms. Brunt seeks not to pretend to understand issues that women face, but instead talks about how for feminism to progress, masculinity needs to change.
Brunt is Jimmy Pucci’s first solo production. He has written, directed and starred in the show, a bold thing to tackle for an emerging playwright. Pucci is to be commended for directly critiquing his own friends and culture. Bravely he has put his own mates under the microscope, challenging his audience to consider how we continue to feed a patriarchal superstructure in what most perceive as the casual, carefree fun of being a young-white-dude-from-the-north-shore/eastern-suburbs.
The show is set in an unlicensed venue in Sydney. Two mates walk in and encounter a series of different male archetypes from around Sydney. In this ‘sausage fest’ of a party, drugs, alcohol and violence arises in what becomes a melting pot of unaccountable debauchery. It’s very Lord of the Flies-esque, just think dark, warehouse venue somewhere in the inner west.
The performers are all emerging actors, however considering their lacking experience they performed confidently and harmoniously. The staging was thoughtful; video and sound are used intelligently to pastiche different historical and contemporary materials. The most well considered transition was at the halfway point, where the removal of a red stage curtain has great narrative effect, bringing the audience deeper into the theatrical tension and suspense. The ending however, is abrupt. The pace is fast, and it ends with you wishing there was more. My only comment would be for a second part of the show to be written, but what this show did was lay the groundwork for exciting work to come.
Overall, Brunt is a triumph for Pucci, and deals with contentious subject manner with respect, sensitivity and nuanced criticism. The show leaves its audience with a confronting insight into the primitive, senselessness of brute masculinity. As referenced in the play, at a time when a man running the United States of America is saying things like “grab her by the pussy”, it’s become more than ever crucial to discuss the deep seated problems embedded in masculinity, and time to hold men accountable for their actions.
Brunt ran at 107 Redfern for three nights, finishing on August 18. It is the first show of Pucci’s career, but hopefully not the last. //