Know Your Enemy is an examination of hopelessness, integrity and the question of why you should carry on against seemingly inescapable odds. A group of survivors of the not so recent apocalypse turn on each other and show their true colours in an extremely tense setting after a last hope attempt at survival and it makes for compelling theatre. The show feels like an episode of The Walking Dead with exposed secrets, drama and action, and definitely more substantial content. Splinter groups of the larger collective all vying for their own personal gains with tensions running high as a rouge member takes liberty with everyone’s safety.
Although the content is intense and dramatic the performances given are much more a real life examination of the characters lives and their reactions to the setting. There’s a lot going on in this play with each characters back story coming up in the flow of the dialogue aided by an alien as a plot device . There is a sense of how the play is split up into segments showing each characters motivations and dark past and that is very satisfying. There’s no stone unturned and you get to really see how basic impulses and human behaviour is carefully looked at in a post apocalyptic setting.
The performances by Adam Droppert as Oscar and Nicholas Allen as Loch were especially compelling giving a meaty and strong performance. Showcasing their refined skills as two brothers with a tumultuous past the chemistry between the two is very enjoyable to watch if not slightly teeth grinding stuff. Overall you get a sense that the cast are comfortable in their respective roles and all of them flaunt their talents and strengths to make an excellent narrative while at the same time giving it a likeable believability. Tension is aided by broody and dark sound-scapes by Tim Newhouse that is unrelenting and adds a special sense to the performances. This is aided by the stage set-up which takes a brave move by splitting the audience into two and having them on opposing sides of the action.
I found the stage design at first to be particularly curious and I really enjoyed how it was incorporated into the physicality of the show. Instead of your typical fourth wall technique with audience members viewing the stage from only one angle the set-up feels a lot more like a room with two invisible walls. This gives the show a very authentic feeling which could have been an obstructive move, however it greatly adds to the feeling of the show and dialogue. The movement of characters felt a lot more free and the setting of where people could and couldn’t stand in a typical stage set up was opened up. The use of screens to block of any potential splatter felt a bit much and did block off the sounds of certain monologues when spoken too close to the stages edge but it felt like a small price to pay to avoid red paint on your shoes. You could also see audience members reaction to the action by simply averting your gaze upwards and I thought that was a bit scintillating if not perhaps slightly unintended.
Know Your Enemy is a very dialogue driven play and the performances given by the cast is the real heart of the show. It’s fantastic to see local Perth actors who have mastered their trade and the story is pretty compelling. Amanda Crewes has obviously done a fantastic role in directing it and I think her vision is conveyed very effectively. If you like a close examination of the human condition in a post apocalyptic settings then this truly is a performance you’re going to love. Also there’s an alien in a suit and that’s pretty cool.
Know Your Enemy is part of a four part string of shows all put on by the actors hub for the fringe show. You can find out where and when it’s showing as well as the other shows being put on by the company here.