Intense, raw and brilliant are the first three words that popped into my mind after seeing the sold out opening night of Hobo. For James Taylor, an actor who graduated from WAAPA’S Aboriginal Theatre program in 2014, this was his first writing and directing debut.
As I entered The Blue Room Theatre with James Taylor sitting on the side of the stage with a guitar in hand, actor Maitland Schnaars who plays Tank sat on a milk crate drinking from a bottle like we weren’t even entering the room to take our seats.
Hobo follows the story of Fred, a homeless man who once was a respected radio personality but lost everything. Losing his job because of accusations made by an assistant, and his marriage over 32 years ended with his wife taking all his money, he now lives in an alleyway with a homeless Indigenous fella called Tank.
Tank and Fred share stories and banter as they drink their problems and days away. James Hagen portrays Fred with a performance that was very powerful, as he became an aggressive, frustrated man who hates the world around him, and especially women after all that happened. At times his anger was a little scary and over the top, but I grew to love it as I could see that the actor immersed himself enough that he actually became Fred.
Maitland Schnaars plays Tank, a stereotypical homeless Aboriginal man who spends all of his money on alcohol. His character becomes the hero, and it was nice seeing the way Tank took care of Fred like he was family, even though Fred could be a real ass. Tank was the one who could reason with all the characters while being a little crazy at the same time.
During the performance, I started to tear up during a scene where Fred wouldn’t accept his son Terry for who he was. Pondering for acceptance is something some search for from their parents, and it’s something I could relate to. The emotions in the fight ran high between Fred and Terry. Terry, played by Chris Bell, had a few little hiccups along the way, however for an acting debut he did an incredible job showing his emotions. The set was simple, but it gave the audience enough to see what the surroundings of homeless people can look like; with cardboxes for beds, bottles of alcohol and even the use of a plastic bag as a toilet. The play was nothing short of swearing, racist slurs and definitely a lot of Australian humour as the crowd didn’t look like they were complaining with all the laughter in the theatre.
Simple sets that packed a punch with a script and delivery hitting all the right stops, Hobo is definitely a show I would see again. Hats off to you James, can’t wait to see what is next after Hobo.
Hobo runs from the 22nd to the 25th of January at The Blue Room Theatre, 53 James Street, Northbridge.
Tickets available on the Perth Fringe Website.