Tender is an honest and hard working play on loss and love.
A young man and a woman are very much in love, the sort of love that creates lines in the mind, defines the personalities within that love, and everything else as being without. Joyous and serious.
Only, the man is gone, missing – traumatically so.
The woman? As if unable to live or redefine herself without him, has forgotten – unable to even make new memories. Past and present get muddled, identity gets consumed, and love gets tested.
The parents of the missing young man are split – torn between between their love for their son, their feelings towards their damaged daughter-in-law, and their need to keep their only grandchild in their life.
The mystery? Can this perfect love survive even this most tragic of circumstance. A difficult and worthwhile endeavour.
Strangely this production doesn’t quite succeed in wrenching us through that same knot of anguish so evident on stage, despite some fine performances and beautiful design. However where it does succeed is perhaps more important, for the production wraps you within an Australian aesthetic – a dramatic aesthetic as much as a design aesthetic – that quietly seeps into you giving both the performance and the audience that feeling of belonging – yes, it’s meant to be there on an Australian stage, and yes, we are right to be here, to prefer this flawed Australian struggle to an import.
This play then as much as anything is about claiming within us a space for Australian drama – how do an Australian husband and wife react at the loss of a son? how does a young Australian wife fight against her inner demons? And importantly, how does this make us Australians feel.
And so for me, perhaps even because of its flaws, it made me feel love and perhaps quietly proud.
Recommended of those seeking Australian fiction, for romantics, for those engaged in the Australian aesthetic.
Show watched 30th June 2010.
Playing at Metro Arts until the 17th of July.