The aftermath of Harry slapping Hugo

There’s a lot to like about the upcoming 8-part series The Slap on ABC1. It’s well cast, subtley directed, and the conversion to screen from the novel by Christos Tsiolkas is excellent. Put simply, it’s compelling Australian drama.

Celebrating Hector’s (Jonathan LaPaglia) 40th birthday with a BBQ at home, his wife Aisha (Sophie Okonedo) invites their friends and his family to celebrate. Kids, beer, conversation and too much food. While it all seems quite convivial underneath their is all sorts of tension, not least of which within the group of tween kids who don’t want to let 4 year old Hugo (Julian Mineo) join in. He’s small and isn’t playing well with them, and he’s been a pain all day.

The kids are ushered outside to play a game of cricket and burn off some energy, and when Hugo – son of Gary (Anthony Hayes) and Rosie (Melissa George) – is out and refuses to hand over the bat he swings it wildly at all the kids surrounding him. Harry (Alex Dimitriades) – Harry’s cousin and father to one of the kids in the assembled group grabs Hugo and pulls him out of the group. Hugo kicks Harry in the shin and Harry slaps Hugo across the face.

From this slap chaos erupts within the adult group, and the story progresses from here. Each episode is told from the perspective of one of the characters at the BBQ, and as the story unfolds we learn of the treachery, deceit, pain, anger, frustration and infidelity simmering beneath the veil of civility the characters publicly portray.

A stunning series for the ABC, one sure to be the source of many a dinner party conversation in weeks to come. Each character shares their opinion over Harry slapping Hugo and it’s these opinions shared with the depth of relationship between the characters that deliver some of the strongest drama. Lex Marions is a joy as Hector’s Dad Manolis, and the series is narrated by William McInnes with such understatement it blends perfectly.

This should be The Slap seen and heard around the nation.

The Slap – starts Thu 06/10 8:30pm, ABC1.