Its hard to believe there are any social taboos left that haven’t been dramatized in some way or another on TV. Then out of nowhere comes an Australian import that raises an issue I’d ever seen dealt with before in TV drama.
The Slap (based on the book by the same name by Christos Tsiolkas) is already one of the most talked about and debated new series in Australia and its wonderful that BBC4 have treated us to this as well This brilliantly acted drama deals with a social taboo everyone can and will have an opinion on. It’s a controversial subject that provides some of the most tense TV moments of the year.
The premise is a simple one. A large family gathers for a Birthday Barbeque and an innocent game of cricket leads to a slap that has consequences for everyone involved. The Slap at the centre of the series involves a gown man assaulting a three year boy with a sharp slap that divides both the fictional barbeque guests and the viewer. The story is then told from the different prospectives of the eight main characters. As each story progresses, and we get to know each character comes to the forefront the afternoon of “The Slap” changes.
What made the first episode of the serial (there are 8 episodes) so watchable was the sense of reality and the sense of tension that was littered across the hour. Some might say the first episode was a slow burner but the underlining tension between the characters made it impossible to give up on it. Married couple Hector and Aisha (who featured primarily in the opener) sniped and picked at each other all the way through. Their bickering did get a bit tiresome but as the tension between them and their guests grew I found I was well and truly sucked in.
|The Slap, BBC4|
Its fair to say that the characters aren’t that likeable They are not the sort of people I’d want to invite over for the afternoon but I’m more than happy to gorp at them from the comfort of my sofa.. Most of the eight characters that we spend each hour with are deeply flawed and as each story progresses we get to know more about what makes each of them behave the way they do.
This isn’t the Australia we’re used to seeing. This is about as far away from the land of Neighbours and Home & Away as it possible to get. It’s a side of suburban Down Under that will be both a shock and pleasant surprise to a British audience.
The only possible niggle is the occasional interruption by unknown narrator who reads exerts from the book. This distracts of the realism and just feels out of place in such a modern piece but I can forgive it that as everything else about the series seems so fresh and surprising that I can ignore the narrator when his gravely voice makes an appearance.
The only other niggle (and this is just spite and jealousy talking) I wish the British had come up with this idea first because a subject like this has BAFTA all over it but that being said if this the current standard of Aussie drama let’s have the next one please!