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Stefo Nantsou, Lindy Sardelic and Tom Lycos in Burnt. Photos: Tracey Schramm.

POSTED: 26 MAY 2010

Burnt, by Tom Lycos and Stefo Nantsou

Zeal Theatre & Sydney Theatre Company, Wharf 2, Walsh Bay, Sydney | Until 28 May

Burnt is written, directed and performed by Tom Lycos and Stefo Nantsou, the dynamic duo behind the Zeal Theatre who are celebrating their 20th year of cutting-edge theatre.

Burnt premiered in 2009, and Sydney Theatre company has given it a timely call back as the play’s focus is financial hardship in the fabricated town of Gilpendry.  Essentially its theme is about fiscal adversity and its impact on family and communities.

Devised with the collaboration of communities and schools in rural NSW, the play has a bush-yarn quality. The spotlight is on one family and the ensemble of three actors uses physical theatre to dramatise the characters and locations.

Lycos uses his Circus Oz training and experience to create the passion, energy and zest that entertains whilst enlightening. NIDA graduate Lindy Sardelic displays her comedy skills and exquisite timing to add authenticity to the scenarios. The live music creates and sustains rhythms and keeps the pace fluid and up-beat.

Zeal has always appealed to school audiences and this is no exception. None of the play’s many scenes last longer than a few minutes , which means that the family and their community is brought to life in a fast-moving, space-jump format and the actors handle the shifts between their characters commendably.

Through the small details and telling asides we learn the fundamentals of this family and their situation — locust plagues, economic hardship, teenage issues and the ever-present backdrop of the drought.

Each character is brought to life with a detail and humour that is warm and offbeat, arising from an affection for, and an understanding of the characters’ idiosyncrasies.

Despite the simplicity of dialogue, the three manage to create distinctive personalities and they have refined their mime to the point of perfection, showing respect for the audience by conveying just enough to put the scenes across, never over-explaining.

If you admire theatrical invention and courageous theatre you should not miss this.

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