Presented by Promise Productions
After a building burns down, the inhabitants must come to terms with the circumstances that lead to the disaster. During an investigation, we flash back to snapshots of several interconnected storylines. Written and directed by Deon Denton, Things We Lost in the Fire isn’t a very deep play, but it does have a certain soap opera appeal that held my attention.
Jumping between their interviews with the investigator (Philip Cairns) and a series of private dramas, we meet: an battered wife (Lizette Mynhardt), her abusive husband (Joshua Bishop) and their busking daughter (Ridley Pierce); a prudish wife (Marissa Rasmussen) and her cheating husband (Matt Scerri); a guilt-ridden police officer (Jordan Kewell) and his neglected wife (Maisie Gee). As a sort of den mother, Miss Effie (Denton) oversees all as the owner of the building.
Miss Effie is the most amusing character of the lot. While interrogated about the fire, she has some of the best zingers. And though I could only hear his voice since he was seated amongst the audience, Cairn does convey a certain tolerant, sympathetic exasperation with these deliberately unhelpful witnesses.
There are some genuinely amusing and touching moments and each of the cast has moments to shine; but overall, the performances are fairly one-note. The central theme—that you can spend years living, working and commuting alongside people yet never even knowing their name—resonates; though the characters, their conflicts and resolutions lack nuance.
It does have its moments. Though rather hokey, one character’s expected comeuppance is particularly satisfying.