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Robert in Crisis

ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED TO run in April, Scott Gooding’s one-hour, one-man dark comedy, Robert in Crisis, finally takes its spot under the lights this month. Whilst cancelling was disappointing, Gooding feels fortunate to be in the Territory.

“I feel that we’re incredibly lucky up here to be able to still congregate and meet, and share stories, music and theatre. While it was disappointing [to cancel] at the time, we knew because Robert in Crisis is a solo show, it was much more achievable to reschedule,” he says.

At the time, Gooding was performing in the 12-strong cast of Michael Gow’s seminal Australian play Away, the four-week run cut short due to the unravelling and unpredictable health situation.

“We were cut down by at least one full week. By opening night, word had started to get around just how contagious this infection was,” he says.

“When we decided to postpone Robert in Crisis, we did so before mandatory closures. Even if we could open, we didn’t feel comfortable. The world, Australia especially at that point, was trying to grapple with what was going on. As this play has themes of male depression that goes throughout, we thought it might be a bit lost in the noise.”

In what has been a highly challenging year for many, 2020 presents the opportunity to address the topic of mental health.

The play centres on Robert, whose life is on the right track – he’s got a career, wife, house and kids – but that all unravels when his wife drops a bombshell. Gooding says he developed the play to start an important conversation.

“Robert in Crisis doesn’t give answers, it just poses the question. This is usually what I do with my work, I ask ‘what’s the discussion?’ For me as an artist and theatre maker, my role is to ask questions and provoke discussion,” he says.

“We’ve started a Champion Program, where we’ve reached out to a number of male leaders to come along with five of their male-identifying friends for an informal discussion afterwards, to chat about what we can do about male depression and what options there are.”

For too long, the ‘teaspoon of cement’ mentality has prevented men from opening up about their mental health.

“As a male growing up with that rhetoric, it’s done more damage than good, which is why we’re talking about it and how, while saving whatever term of masculinity you want. It’s not a weakness, it’s a point of strength. One of the major downfalls for Robert in the play is that he doesn’t talk about it.”

Brown’s Mart Theatre has been setting some pretty large milestones this year, being the last theatre to close in the country before the COVID lockdowns came into effect and the first to reopen. Gooding says he’s grateful to have such a devoted group of people campaigning for local theatre during an impossible year for the industry.

“Sean, Brad, Kelly, Kerrin and the Brown’s Mart team have done an amazing job in really difficult circumstances to get it all back up and running again.”


Robert in Crisis
WHEN TUE 27 OCT – SAT 7 NOV (EXCL. SUN & MON) | 7PM
AT BROWN’S MART THEATRE
COST $15-$35
INFO brownsmart.com.au

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