The Dapto Chaser, by Mary Rachel Brown | Directed by Glynn Nicholas

Apocalypse Theatre Co & Griffin Independent | SBW Stables Theatre, Darlinghurst, Sydney | Until 25 July

The Dapto Chaser has so much to offer in only 90 minutes.

Just as the stage overflows with props and testosterone and stage business, so does the story overflow with important themes and jokes and relationship hurdles.

It’s a busy set, using every bit of the meagre space to represent both the Sinclair house and the dog track. Georgia Hopkins (set and costume designer) and Toby Knyvett and Daryl Wallis (lighting and sound designers) have imaginatively pulled this off.

It’s easy to see the hand of director Glynn Nicholas in the design, too. A veteran physical performer and innovative creator, he’s sure to have come up with the marvellous way the dogs are represented on stage.

Danny Adcock (Errol Sinclair) opens the show, all pistons firing, as the dying but feisty patriarch. He’s an old bastard who often put his dogs before his kids, and he’s not about to go quietly. Jamie Oxenbould (Jimmy Sinclair) wears the character of the downtrodden younger son well. Richard Sydenham (Cess Sinclair) grabs our attention throughout most of the 90 minutes with a powerful performance of the elder son with bigger dreams than we realise.

Despite Errol’s talent with the dogs, and because of his gambling addiction, the Sinclairs are dirt poor. Always have been. Both sons want to escape this poverty – Jimmy by working for Errol’s rival, Arnold Denny (Noel Hodda), Cess by becoming a successful trainer – but circumstances thwart them.

Through their stories, playwright Mary Rachel Brown explores the cycle of intergenerational poverty and how our society seems to be geared to maintain it. And through their relationships, Brown weaves the angst of family loyalty put to the test.

Brown’s work is impressive. Not only has she managed to explore these deeply complex themes, intertwining them in a way that heightens their impact, but she’s also filled her script to the brim with jokes – slow burns as well as guffaw-worthy one-liners. The skill with which she and the actors take the audience on a journey from hilarious mirth and merriment to tragic pathos is breathtaking.

It’s a journey well worth taking.

NOTE: To read Toni Carroll's blog, visit tonicarroll.wordpress.com

Photo: Brett Boardman