Tell me Before the Sun Explodes

Declan Dowling
9th May 2022

This two-hander exploring intergenerational queer love in contemporary Sydney truely is a hidden gem, tucked away neatly at the contextually appropriate and perfectly intimate Kings Cross Theatre (KXT) on William Street. This new Australian work from Jacob Parker takes a particularly interesting angle exploring the queer approach to love and most interstingly death.

Moody, striking, charming and exceptionally paced ‘Tell Me Before The Sun Explodes’ unpacks the relationship between Andrew (Tim McGarry) and the younger Chris (Joshua Shediak) jumping backward and forward through time to the night of their first meeting and the night of their last some years later. Parker’s text and direction by Hayden Tonazzi gave the evening a very cinematic feel, the approach to design, style and conflict gave me ever so subtle whiffs of Lars Von Trier and his approach to presenting and unpacking crumbling relationships. Which by all means was a very good thing in context of the evening. I was incredibly surprised to see just how young Tonazzi was when reading the program. His deft touch, sense of tension, change, symbolism and space felt like the work of a far older and more experienced director. My eyes will be on the horizon and ears to the ground to catch word of his next project. Likewise with Parker.

Performances from McGarry and Shediak were sound, but the chemistry between them didn’t quite hit the mark. I wanted to feel a history brimming between the cracks of their every interaction, but the focus seemed more to be on developing themselves individually rather than a sense of what they shared together and how they changed as a result of having known each other. This may develop as the production settles in. However McGarry’s experience shines through and his every movement and thought had a high polish on them filling the space with a striking presence and character. Shediak’s earnestness and youth, full of certain uncertainty in his character, was a delightful foil to McGarry.

Ryan McDonald’s lighting and original composition and sound design by Chrysoulla Markoulli were an absolute triumph of intimidation, mood, subtlety and aesthetic. Transforming a small room of 80 people into a dizzying and vast landscape of mood, never allowing you to leave the world of the play as we transitioned between scenes and periods of time. Soham Apte’s costume and set design are understated and brimming with character in their own right, not too much, not too little, a perfect blend of the play’s context and themes in visual form.

With the majority of the team recent alumni from institutions such as NIDA and various other performing arts institutes, this production offers a glimpse into the future of Australian theatre, and we are in good hands.

Tell Me Before The Sun Explodes is playing at KXT until the 14th of May.

Photo by Philip Erbacher