REVIEW: Daniel Nellor’s DISTANCE

Torn apart and drawn together by an act of violence

By Myron My

Directed by Chris Thompson, Distance comes into focus over two parents who are dealing with their son having been arrested after an incident in which another child has ended up in a coma. They grapple with the repercussions of what their son has done, and attempt to deal with their own guilt and grief as parents who have ‘failed’.


The range of emotions that this estranged couple go through are brilliantly played by Margot Fenley and Kevin Hopkins. Fenley’s portrayal of Ellen, who attempts to keep herself together as she tries to fully understand what has happened, is raw and authentic. Her character is in direct contrast to Hopkins’ Andrew, who initially is more concerned about having his boy home with him and trying to justify what has happened because his son is “just a child”, rather than accepting and dealing the situation. Hopkins shows this man (who in his own way is also struggling with the events that have transpired) with great believability.

Daniel Nellor’s script, whilst predominantly a character piece, still has a strong narrative presence. Nellor doesn’t describe everything that has happened and opens the way for speculation by his audience, which allows us to be strongly included in the creative process. His writing is honest and real and doesn’t delve into melodrama. However I must confess the final scene of Distance did confuse me as to how much time had elapsed, and having been through such an emotional experience with the two characters, I felt a bit deflated by this finale.

It is worth commenting on the number of students and recent graduates who worked on this production including lighting designer, Yossi Torbiner, whose work helped create a claustrophobic and engulfing environment and delicately reflect the moods and emotions of the two leads. The musical interludes used throughout also added to the confusion and conflict felt by not only the parents but also (we are invited to imagine) their son.

Distance offers a rare look into the lives of a perpetrator’s family and how this act of violence affects them. It is a strong collaborative production that is well worth seeing.

Venue: La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday Street Carlton

Season: Until 16 June | Wed, Fri 6:30pm, Thurs, Sat 8:30pm Sun 4:30pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Conc

Bookings: or 9347 6142