I'm not a political affairs reporter, I've not served in the Press Gallery and it's years since I did local body reporting, so maybe I am the wrong person to review a play which pivots round backroom post-election political deals.

More experienced political animals could probably find the plot holes in Burn Her – and they're there - but the accuracy of the politics isn't exactly the point in this taut thriller by emerging, but already award-winning, playwright Sam Brooks.

This is a wryly observed dissection of where humanity comes into politics - and life in general - with women at the centre. Brooks has shoved the male characters aside and by focusing on strong and complex women, highlights conflict and contradictions.

This raises the question of whether a 27-year-old male can write the kinds of female characters whose words will ring true to a cross section of the population. I think the answer lies in how a play makes you and those around you feel; that Brooks and director Sam Snedden get it right shows in the way the audience around me reacted by expressing loud gasps, a fair few wows, spontaneous applause and sometimes captivated silence.


One even wiped away a tear.

In short, Brooks has done a humdinger of a job – and written some blisteringly-charged lines – which truthfully sum up what it is (still) to be a woman in supposedly more enlightened times and the six-strong cast are riveting.

As the two leads, Miriama McDowell and Bree Peters make a stunning pairing with McDowell's idealistic politician Aria butting up against the pragmaticism of Peters' spin doctor George Rush all the way.

That's not to say the characters are perfect. George Rush is a little too quick with the one-liners – although they are great one-liners – and while deliciously played, Andi Crown's more seasoned PR hack, Lauren Grant, is overly oleaginous.

That Brooks can write something as meaty as this at just 27, and that we have a cast that rises so ably to meet the material, is a great thing. It's also a great thing that this came through Q Theatre's Matchbox development programme, giving a young playwright the chance to very ably spread his wings.

What: Burn Her
Where & when: Loft at Q Theatre, until August 18
Reviewed by: Dionne Christian