The Demon Review


Reviewed by Zuzi Fort

Come face to face with your inner demon during the limited season of a unique theatrical experience at the Opera House. Last Thursday saw the opening night and the unveiling of The Sydney Opera House’s bi-annual season of UnWrapped. UnWrapped is a fantastic platform for independent Australian voices to be heard. It is an opportunity for many diverse and multi-disciplinary artists to present their perceptions of our fast-changing world, a chance to showcase their views and opinions and perhaps even solutions.

One of the five new works presented this year is The Demon. The Demon was workshopped and created by a respected ensemble of creatives including an award-winning writer Michael Mohammed Ahmad, intercultural theatre director Rachael Swain and choreographer of filmic and surrealist dance theatre Gavin Webber. Along with a superb cast these amazing artists crafted an intellectual as well emotional piece of performance theatre. The Demon is presented in an exaggerated style, using emotive lighting, poignant music, shadow play, wire work, physical theatre, poetry, song, and beautifully crafted dialogue that includes both visceral as well as lyrical language. The action sequences, with their use of rewinds as well as mirroring and slow motion enhance the overall experience and drive the message home. Perhaps, to truly underscore the overall theme there should have been moments of raw power. This was unfortunately lacking. With the help of a stage fighting expert this could easily be incorporated so that moments of poetic fluidity can be juxtaposed next to raw unfiltered violence. However, the play’s ultimate meaning and the audiences’ experience is one of complete truthfulness of emotions.

The Demon presents a unique take on the bleak narrative of White Australia. Without pointing fingers, it is a confronting experience as we come to realise, we all carry the burden of guilt, the burden of our own greed. Once we acknowledge this shame, once we confront the demon that is within us all, we can be truly free, we can be redeemed. 

The Demon is a physical theatre presenting an action-packed thriller live and raw in its immediacy pushing the boundaries of magic realism on stage. A simple story of two Bankstown detectives, Arab Australian Jihad superbly embodied by Johnny Nasser and his Aboriginal Muslim partner Matthew/Muhammad wonderfully acted by Kirk Page who are embroiled in investigating a crime allegedly perpetrated by a Chinese Australian street fighter. The investigation takes them on a journey of discovery, through self-doubt, through prejudice, deceit, and ultimately leads them to the very beginning of it all, to self-discovery.