‘Ren Lunicke’s Blood Relative’ is a semi-biographical, dark comedy, having its World Premiere at the New Hayman Theatre, within Curtin Theatre Arts at Building 302. Enter Curtin University from Manning Road, past CSIRO; turn right onto Brand – the ring road – and park in the last section of Car park 9. There are signposts to the venue on the pathway opposite the car park. This multi-award winning, contemporary play for adults is part of the Perth Fringe Festival. Ren Lunicke, who is an American / Canadian / New Zealander playwright and poet, has crafted this magnificent piece. Zir Productions, a group that has a special interest in lesbian productions, are presenting the show. This play has a Kleenheat Sizzle Factor of Medium. The multi-award winning actor presents the 75-minute performances at 8.30 pm on Saturday and Tuesday evenings, and again at 6.30 pm on Thursdays, with the final show on Saturday 17th February. The scene is mainly a room in a hospital or old folk’s home, with a hospital bed. Stephen Carr supervised the installation of his lighting design. Three Curtin Theatre students – one each night – will operate the sound and lighting equipment. The operators are Calum Christie, Sarah Connolly, and Kieran Trembath.
Ren begins by explaining that ‘Family are the ones who will always be there for you’…unless they disapprove of you. As a lesbian Ren has had more than her fair share of ostracising from friends and relatives.
After a brief history of her younger years at school, Ren ‘comes out’. Her Bible thumping mother greeted the announcement with horror and disapproval. Ren’s closet relative is Mildred, her doting grandmother who is now over 100. Ren decides that her Gran, having lived through an era when the word ‘divorce’ cannot even be mentioned, would not understand, or cope with knowing the details of lesbianism.
Ren’s love for her Grandmother is immense, but Gran is dying. Luckily, Julie, Ren’s wife, is now there to support her through difficult times. When the couple decide to have a child, yet another problem faces her.
So skilled was Ren’s writing that even as a male I could totally sympathise with her mental and physical problems. The delivery of these controversial topics was exceptional. The actor has a special style that allows her to present her heart wrenching problems flippantly, whilst ensuring that the audience experience the true depth of her profound trauma. Ren played several different characters during the slick, perfectly presented 75 minutes. She changed her style and persona flawlessly. I found this show to be one of the most touching that, I have seen in many months.