YOU KNOW WE BELONG TOGETHER now showing at the Drama Theatre at the  Sydney Opera House, is a play unlike any other. It is truly unique. Moreover, it is not to be missed!

The play consists of a series of vignettes from the life of Julia Hayes, who is not just the narrator, but the play’s creator, lead actor, co-writer along with Finn O’Branagain and Clare Watson, and a person with Down Syndrome. She is, during the course of the play,  ably supported by other talented actors, who also have Down Syndrome, as well as several persons from the audience who graciously accepted Julia’s invitation to come up onto the stage to briefly play characters integral to the narrative, by reading from the script.

That technique of using audience participation, together with the brilliant integration between the actors and numerous short film clips, as well as some dancing and song, blend together seamlessly to produce theatre of the highest order.

 The play shows aspects of Julia’s life. It has moments of delightful humour, real life drama, utter poignancy and sheer, immeasurable joy!

The theme is how Down Syndrome has affected Julia Hayes and the lives of her family, friends and others. It is a  positive, gentle and uplifting one.

The play succeeds on many levels, but essentially because of the talents of Julia Hayes. She portrays a person who is not just extremely likeable, but who, at times, can soar to the heights of a charismatic messenger. She never invites sympathy, only limitless admiration.

If there was one flaw in the production, namely an intermittent audience difficulty in being able to properly hear some words, because they were ineptly spoken by the actors, it was a minor one, perfectly understandable, and when weighed against the play’s entirety, irrelevant.

 Australian audiences are not prone to give standing ovations. At its opening night, YOU KNOW WE BELONG TOGETHER received such an ovation. It was spontaneous, irrepressible – and thoroughly deserved!

 Review by Ron Desiatnik