🐰 Every Lovely Terrible Thing by Adam Fawcett

An ambitious exploration of the costs of keeping secrets and the price we pay to tell them.

🐰 Every Lovely Terrible Thing by Adam Fawcett
Image: Lab Kelpie

Every Lovely Terrible Thing is an ambitious exploration of the costs of keeping secrets and the price we pay to tell them. Set in a house outside of a town outside of Melbourne, the story follows the Colemans as they try their best to hold their family (and house) together through revelations of queerness, adultery, parenthood, and abuse.

The world that Fawcett conjures feels expansive and full of depth, and it’s enjoyable to watch each of the characters truths tumble into the light during the two hour show. There’s a satisfying symmetry in the subplots that almost feels like When the Rain Stops Falling by Andrew Bovell. At the same time, some monologues are overwrought and Fawcett’s scenes end with cliffhangers a little too frequently for my taste. Despite the traumatic events at the heart of the play, Fawcett’s writing has a deep empathy and care which helps us navigate and guides us into the world of the Colemans.

Wil King as Coop is a particular standout, whose portrayal of a mid-20s non-binary kid who refuses to move out gave the most delightful mix of Blanche DuBois and Miranda Priestley. Megan Jones’ role as the matriarch of the family was also unforgettable as she fought the family to keep the past buried. On the whole, the ensemble is strong and beautifully united, the chemistry between them palpable.

Image: Pia Johnson

Harry Gill’s set design is evocative and effective at representing the Coleman’s fading residence. The lamps growing out of the foundations of the house like mushrooms are a highlight, particularly in their skilful integration with the rest of Sidney Younger’s moody and theatrical lighting design. The AV design by Aron Murray is brilliantly executed but the sparse usage of it adds little to the staging of the work beyond knowledge of key dates in the plot. Tom Backhaus’ sound design is also stellar, especially during flashback sequences where it’s a brilliant source of tension.

Every Lovely Terrible Thing doesn't feel as long as it's 140 minute runtime would suggest, a testament to Justin Nott's wonderfully cohesive and fleshed out vision of Fawcett's text. Their direction of the Act Two opening sequence is especially memorable, featuring a wonderfully disorientating lip-sync funeral. However some overlapping scenes (those with Jordan Fraser-Trumble's character, an electrician named Lachie who discovers a love for Wil King's Coop) lacked clarity and focus, taking me out of the moment. Nevertheless, his staging of the flashbacks throughout the text were incredibly affective and emotive, revealing Brit's (played by Sharon Davis) childhood and PTSD.

Every Lovely Terrible Thing is enrapturing. Luscious design combined with an excitingly expansive text provides a map of lives fraying on the fringe. Lab Kelpie has created an ambitious yet cohesive world which you can't help but become lost in.

Every Lovely Terrible Thing is at Theatre Works until 16 March