Significant others

Significant others

When a family implodes in a missing person case, there’s trauma, guilt, longing and buried bitterness that bubbles to the surface in new ABC drama Significant others.

Teenage Hanna (Zoë Steiner) appears to witness her mother Sarah drowning off the Sydney beaches. That would be enough to send the more sane of us into utter despair, but Hanna is convinced that her mother is safe and wandering around in a daze, probably with memory loss.

Compassionate policewoman Deborah (Rarriwuy Hick) kindly elicits circumstances from Hanna and her teenage brother Ciaran (Gulliver McGrath) as family members begin to arrive.

First up is dancer Dan (Kenneth Moraleda), Sarah’s adoptive brother, and her boyfriend, Wayne (Todd McKenney). They emerge as the two caring gay uncles who will have to steer the course when their combative sister and real estate broker Ursula (Rachael Blake) arrives.

“Mom thought I was a bitch,” Ciaran tells her, and it’s not hard to see why.

The other sister is Claire (Alison Bell), who breaks up with her partner (Sean Barker), takes the blotto and arrives late in the midst of this family crisis.

As helicopters scour the ocean for any sign of Sarah, well-meaning locals drop casseroles — and even flowers — seemingly resigned to an outcome Hanna isn’t quite ready to entertain.

But Officer Deborah, gathering all the facts, begins to unravel a family with history and deep resentment.

“We really love each other. You know what family is like», insists Ursula.

Director Tony Krawitz navigates a very believable family unit from Tommy Murphy’s script. Each underplays their part, either creating a veritable tapestry that is trying to hold it together or avoiding their clear conflicts. The images are wintry which, coupled with the lower socio-economic background, creates a believable Australian family unit. It’s also a very diverse ensemble as both lead and supporting actors.

The two teenage performances of Zoë Steiner and Gulliver McGrath are extraordinary and Rarriwuy Hick continues to perform after his work in True Colors and Wentworth. But it’s also great to see Todd McKenney in a dramatic performance as Kenneth Moraleda’s stable partner.

Mystery surrounds the role of local trader Ali (Fayssal Bazzi) and an elusive young woman George (Diana Popovska), who helped Hanna the day her mother went missing.

After recent successes with Wentworth AND High heartbreakFremantle continues to maintain a dramatic output of note.

Significant othersThe story functions partly as a mystery about Sarah’s absence and partly as melodrama in her essay on family unity. It comes as an introspective work in which the sum of the parts creates a satisfying whole as the viewer unravels how this family has been derailed and considers the fragility of our relationships.

Signficant Others screens Sundays at 8:30pm on ABC.