Angus Cerini gives us three women in a sort of hell. While it may appear to be of their own making, we begin to learn what has brought them to the point of violence. The shocking but sustained arc of action involves a family whose lives are at the mercy of a domineering patriarch, and their savage retaliation. In language that is robust and idiomatic, redolent with memorable and original imagery, Cerini constructs a world that is recognisably ours despite feeling perverse and fantastical.
Fizzing with energy, passion and confident craftsmanship, Cerini’s story of downtrodden women who rise up is demanding, blackly hilarious and unflinchingly tough. In a sustained narrative line passed between the three characters, Cerini demonstrates control of form and momentum. He refuses to let us off the hook, insisting we consider the ramifications of abuse — and what happens when victims reverse the roles — as they do here with grisly results.
This short but formidable work is as epic in its power as any great tragedy. By turns murder ballad, gothic horror story, outback myth and revenge thriller, Cerini’s cautionary tale is grotesque and exquisite. His rural Furies hunt and haunt us. They insist, in language that is unforgettable for its cruel beauty and tender ugliness, that the cycle of domestic violence continues long after bruises have healed. While sharing qualities with the Greeks and Jacobeans, Angus Cerini’s wildly poetic text is a morality play for these days and this land.