And we certainly didn't expect that the whole theatre would be the set, with scattered eclectic lounge suites, coffee tables and the like – which put us in the middle of the action and gave us the uneasy feeling that it was only a matter of time before we were called on to perform (which fortunately for the rest of the audience, didn't happen). All it needed was the scent of stale smoke (of sundry types) and spilt beer to take us right back to the seventies.
The lighting was perfect – colours and spots giving the "band" feel.
The title of the play does not prepare you for the story that unfolded.
From the beginning it had elements of take no prisoners comedy however, it soon turned into a passionate performance which entwined comedy, tragedy and a clarion call to equality through music and a narrative hundreds of years in the writing.
And there were great one-liners. 'At the heart of this country is a theft' accuses Barbara. 'Nobody fears being thieved as much as a pack of thieves.' 'Sorry' doesn't really cut it, especially if you don't wait around to find out whether the apology is accepted or not.
We were kept entertained with the thunderous powerful voices of the main characters.
We were humoured by the banter amongst the sisters and the band.
We were bought to tears by the story told of the trials and tribulations that they encountered growing up in a culture tainted by Western temptations – not least alcohol abuse.
We travelled with the performers from Sydney to the outback of Kathrine in a wonderfully imaginative way. The props were simple but effective
At times narration was the only prop they needed.
The performance was so tight-knit, one would not have known that Shakira Clanton who played Barbara was the understudy.
As Fiona Blair says "They're magnificent divas, they're vulnerable girls, they're complicated sisters; and there isn't a note, a mode, a glance of withering irony or agonised pain these two can't hit. Both characters are sexually confident, raunchy, witty, foul-mouthed and angry. The songs.. are not just musically satisfying, but clear, every word intelligible."
Barbara and The Camp Dogs swept the audience up in a mixture of playfulness, compassion, anger, and laughter together with a clear clarion call to equality and the art of forgiveness.
Troy Jungaji played Joseph. His heart felt singing was awesome.
The band was instrumental (pardon the pun) to the successful performance that received a well deserved standing ovation.
Queensland Theatre takes risks, and pushes boundaries.
The risks paid off, and if at times we felt uncomfortable – that's what good theatre does.