There's nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, especially when the truth is hunting you down. Flood, the first major play from Perth playwright Chris Isaacs, wrests six privileged white twenty-somethings out of their comfort zone and plonks them in a crisis of their own making.
How they handle some confronting realities and how these unravel the ties that bind the group together, point to some concerns about wider Australian society, Isaacs says.
Just what is the fear that these young people end up running away from?
"I think (Flood) is going to ask questions about what we are running away from and whether we are dealing with the truth," Isaacs says. "When we don't face up to the truth, bad things happen."
He keeps the plot specifics to himself but suffice to say that things go awry on a camping trip to the Mid West. There may be a body involved.
Isaacs' play, the first from Black Swan State Theatre Company's emerging writers group, is one of the more serious offerings in a Fringe World program dominated by raucous comedy, burlesque, cabaret and circus acts.
Flood is set about 2010-11 when the entire country - particularly the Gascoyne, Queensland and Victoria - seemed inundated by floodwaters.
This devastation, an irresistible force that overwhelms and destroys a community, also gave Isaacs a metaphor of an erasure of a different kind: the flood of white Europeans trying to wipe clean indigenous history and culture.
"I wanted to write a play which addressed certain issues in Australia with race relations and cultural relations," says the co-creator of the Helpmann Award-nominated It's Dark Outside and the co-founder of the new Last Great Hunt theatre company.
"I knew there were limitations on how I could write that play based on who I am and the authority and agency of that voice. So I approached it from a place of which I had an understanding. And it comes from guilt and shame more than anything else."
Flood's cast members, directed by Adam Mitchell and including Will O'Mahony, Joshua Brennan, Adriane Daff and newcomer Rose Riley, embody the good-looking, fortunate and white young people forced to live with the realities they choose to bury, Isaacs says.
In some ways, Flood can be seen as his generation's modern equivalent of the events depicted in The Secret River, Andrew Bovell's stage adaptation of Kate Grenville's novel about early colonial conflict, Isaacs says.
"This is about what's happening now and it is more about the implicit racial bias that we have," he says. There are elements, too, of Stand by Me, Rob Reiner's coming-of-age film based on Stephen King's novella The Body, in which friendships and personal ethics are tested.
"I think it makes people question what they would do, and nobody can really tell what they would do in a particular situation of high stress and trauma. It is about how they deal with burying the truth and ignoring the reality of the situation out of fear and not knowing and out of miscommunication."
The writing, the direction and the set and sound design, by India Mehta and Ben Collins, will evoke what Isaacs calls "this weird dichotomy of the white Australian identity" in which the characters are psychologically trapped in a landscape-versus-urban divide.
"We build these houses and structures and walls yet we have a cultural identity that relates to landscape," he says. "They are the feelings that influence the piece."
With all that said, Isaacs insists the tone is not entirely intense and serious. "The first 10 to 15 pages are hilarious but after that . . ."
It is important the audience be softened up to connect with these people to go along with them on their journey, he says. "That comedy is a way of coming in and relaxing and enjoying it."
Going into rehearsals two weeks before Christmas after about 25 drafts, Flood is Isaacs' first play since his well-regarded The Forlorn at the Blue Room with the Weeping Spoon ensemble.
He is the only WA playwright with a production in Black Swan's 2014 season. "I am really lucky," he says. "Black Swan has given me an opportunity that not a lot of WA playwrights have, which I feel very blessed about."