A portmanteau play, The House at Boundary Road, Liverpool condenses nearly 70 years of Australian migrant experience into an absorbing 75 minutes.
Its four chapters are organised chronologically, beginning with Thomas de Angelis’s portrait of Italian migrants Roberto and Anna, who between them are laying the foundations of a modest freestanding house (circa 1953) in what was then outer suburban Liverpool.
Compared to post-war Italy, things are better. Electric light. An electric stove! But summer heat, hard work, job insecurity and the recent arrival of Robert’s reluctantly betrothed sister cast a pall over this Australian Dream.
Jordan Shea’s contribution is set some 20 years later. Roberto and Anna have moved on and the house is now home to Fillipino migrants Jovy and his two adult sons.
Again, it’s tough to make ends meet. Jovy is out of work and spends his days drinking, and relatives back home make regular calls on what little money is left over.
Twenty years forward again, the house is still there. Violette Ayad’s vignette involves two fractious Lebanese-Palestinian sisters in an argument over the purchasing of what used to be their childhood home.
The final play, by Chika Ikogwe, is set in the present and observes Nigerian-Australian teenager Chioma webcasts details of her latest high school crush under the concerned eye of her hardworking mother.
Of the four pieces, Shea and Ikogwe’s prove the most compelling. Shea’s piece has a high-stakes element to it that leaves the audience on a life-and-death cliffhanger. Ikogwe’s depiction of a keen-to-assimilate teenager is engaging and warmly funny.
Played in a single room box set (a very effective Keerthi Subramaniam design), director Jessica Arthur helms a polished production. Each episode hums along nicely.
It’s very much an ensemble cast affair graced with notable performances from David Soncin as Roberto and Felino Dolloso as the self-destructing Jovy. A radiant Henrietta Amevor galvanises the final 20 minutes as Chioma with subtle support from Mike Ugo.