Golden Blood, Griffin Theatre Co. | Review

Don’t have time to read the full review? Click here for a quick summary of the who, what, where and wine of this production.

Golden Blood is a tale of family. The family that you choose and the family that you don’t; that you betray or that you sacrifice yourself for; that can lift you up, or ruin your life.

When Girl is orphaned and left alone in Singapore in a penthouse falling to ruin around her, her gangster older brother, Boy, comes to her rescue. Or so she thinks. Embroiled in one of his get-rich-quick schemes after the next during a time when gangs regularly terrorised Singapore city, Girl struggles to find her place in her family, her culture and her path in life. Meanwhile, Boy struggles to face the demons from his past, taunting him at his every attempt to bury his trauma.

Although starting out seemingly as a brother-sister comedy, Golden Blood turns on Girl fast. Jokes about being orphans – which we find out is bad luck in some Chinese cultures – and not knowing traditions for honouring loved ones that have died, rapidly transition to anger and resentment towards childhood abuse suffered at the hands of their mother.

Writer Merlynn Tong plays with comedy and drama to create and perform the character of Girl with immense nuance. She is vulnerable but ambitious, at once trying to assert her place in the world and not disappoint her brother. Her coming of age keeps us on course; her dreams of moving to Australia inspiring, the emotional abuse dished out by Boy outraging, and Boy’s awkward attempts to give her parental guidance (i.e. sex ed) endearing moments of connection in the midst of a life growing up in a toxic environment, addicted to alcohol and drugs far too young.

For a play with only a two-person cast the stage looks and feels full, in part due to the immense amount of dialogue delivered by both fast-talking characters and also due to a couple of well-placed props. An old mattress, a jar of jelly lolly wrappers and some gold paper squares strewn over the floor place us squarely in both the dilapidated house and the sketchy nightclubs that comprise the homes of the duo’s misguided attempts to become millionaires.

For the most part engaging and compelling, with quick transitions marked by strobe lighting and thumping EDM that keeps your blood pumping, the performance does fall a little flat in the third quarter. The ending is certainly not happy, but it is satisfying. It hits home, asking us to consider the boundaries we will break, and the lengths we will go to, for family.

Wine Pairing | Reserve Wine

There is an obsession in this story with becoming wealthy; designer clothes, fancy food, the best of everything. Now, if we ignore for just a moment the message of this story about the trappings of the pursuit of richness, it’s an excellent opportunity to play in the vines of expensive wine.

So, this isn’t a typical varietal choice – we’re basing it on the price point. Reserve wine typically costs more because there is something a bit special about the way it was made. It may be part of a larger batch of wine, saved and aged for a longer period; be produced in a higher quality container, like a barrel; or be produced from a special batch of grapes.

My Pick: Yering Station, 2019 Reserve Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, VIC

This Chardonnay is a beautiful golden drop characteristic of the Yarra Valley. Mineral elements from aged soils add a unique flavour to the pineapple, melon and honey flavours to create a Chardy that’s robust but not overpoweringly oaky, a delightful indulgence.

Splurge on a bottle for $130. Or try one of the non-reserve wines from the collection, which cost a more approachable $40.

Tasting Notes

Aussie Season24 June to 30 July 2022, Griffin Theatre Co., Sydney
Ticket $$20-62
WriterMerlynn Tong
DirectorTessa Leong
Theatre Type & Genreplay, small cast, contemporary drama
See it if you likefamilial conflict with a twist
Other Info
Wine PairingReserve wine
Criteria for Wine Pairingpricey, flavoursome and golden
%d bloggers like this: