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Son of Byblos

2023 - Shortlisted


Judges' Comments

Byblos, in Lebanon, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and Adam, the lead character in this nuanced and authentic drama, is its son. The pressure of cultural expectation is heavy, and so Adam hides his sexuality, and not only that. When his confidante cousin, whom he knows to be a lesbian, suddenly announces her engagement to a man in Lebanon she barely knows, Adam becomes untethered. The lies that used to hold his world together no longer work and he must find a different path. 

The bare bones of this story might be familiar, but through writing in a Lebanese-Australian cultural context Elazzi has shaped a drama underrepresented on Australian stages and one that is rich in surprise and suspense. His five characters inhabit detailed worlds, from the story-laden dining table of an inner-city family to the anonymous sex of public urinals. He writes dialogue that leaps off the page, full of wit and compassion. Among many achievements, Elazzi manages to reveal Adam’s raw desperation while offering an essentially sympathetic portrait of the family whose strictures sit at the centre of the play. In the end, all are less alone.