Five Year Reunion, written, performed and composed by Xavier Lynch, stands out as a compelling and emotionally charged one-man show. A raw and unflinching exploration of post-adolescent trauma, and the confusion of an outsider in the world of the ultra-wealthy unfolds, as the audience accompanies apparent everyman Harry on a journey to his college reunion.
We are introduced to our protagonist, Harry, a modest country boy reminiscing with his overachieving and ineffable friend Sofie about the complex social webs and nostalgic landscapes of the historic Sydney colleges. His character resonates deeply as an archetypal outsider in a world where everyone seemingly knows each other, and themselves, very well. This longing for acceptance becomes a recurring theme that underpins the narrative.
From the get-go, the audience is catapulted into a high-society Sydney restaurant where Harry’s efforts to impress unravel. The story follows a non-linear narrative framework, as we see fragments of Harry’s present, past and time at the reunion, enhanced by the backdrop of an LED screen. The unique use of the LED screen provides an immersive experience — Lynch uses it to have conversations with characters on screen, and provides visual illustrations of pivotal moments that seamlessly provide for an outlet for Harry’s internal and external worlds.
That being said, it’s Lynch’s portrayal of Harry that makes the show worth seeing, in which he captures the multifaceted layers of Harry with grace and sensitivity, and effortlessly allows the audience to feel the emotional transition from initial ambivalence to eventual acceptance of his impending reunion. Despite the short runtime of 43 minutes, the play is packed with emotional intensity, but skillfully balances the heavy subject matter with relatable wit and plenty of moments where you get a hearty chuckle.
Without revealing too much, the themes of shame, guilt, and sexual trauma are navigated with thoughtful care. Five Year Reunion does not shy away from the uncomfortable, instead thoughtfully and empathetically confronts these themes.
One of the play’s most intriguing and thought-provoking aspects is the character of Tom, an old-flame and friend, whose face is intentionally never revealed to the audience. This creative choice by Lynch generates an aura of mystery and depth. In an interview, Lynch hinted at the possibility of Tom being a figment of Harry’s consciousness and a representation of his inner turmoil and doubts. Five Year Reunion delivers a powerful performance in under an hour of runtime, filled with exemplary writing and a multifaceted performance by Lynch. The show is a must-watch thanks to Lynch’s ability to weave together a compelling storyline with heavy themes that are dealt with in a compassionate yet raw way.