Saturday was the final performance of Queensland Theatre's City of Gold production in Brisbane. It was the second time I watched the show, a brilliant play described as 'A battle cry from the front line of Australian identity.' The show is due to open in Sydney next week with preview performances starting this Friday the 26th of July, 2019.
City of Gold is told through the eyes of Breythe (Meyne Wyatt), a young actor struggling to make his mark in the industry when an omen of death visits him. Family duty calls him back to his hometown of Kalgoorlie, the City of Gold. A melting pot of emotional conflict stirs as he grieves his father's death in the background of a community suffering through injustice, under the constant threat of racial violence.
Jeremy Ambrum, Mathew Cooper, Shari Sebbens and Meyne Wyatt Photo credit: Stephen Henry
This show expressed through an undeniable cast of talented actors deserves to travel the world. Meyne Wyatt (Breythe), the writer and lead actor, is empathy personified. I am sure he felt every word, the rage, the pain, the love of family, the duty and the despair — all of it. The characters of Cliffhanger (Jeremy Ambrum), Carina (Shari Sebbens), Mateo (Mathew Cooper) and Dad (Maitland Shanaars) were played beautifully and passionately by all. Christopher Stollery and Anthony Standish, I strongly dislike the Commander and Andrews - Well played!
I believe, when a message is urgent, it finds a way to speak to us, almost unable to rest until heard. It will try different avenues, various frequencies and use any vessel available. There are few lessons more important than the one of racism. The fact that racism is always wrong and should never be accepted often ricochets with denial of existence. City of Gold delivered this paramount message with utter zeal and an honesty that can only originate from life experience.
The writing is raw and doesn't hold back, and that is what makes Breythe's story brilliant. It is relatable on many levels, not just skin deep but at our basic human level. The grief, guilt, pain and anger we all feel regardless of colour, gender, or any other shallow difference, was displayed like an open wound. Although sprinkled with humour, this level of honesty makes 'City of Gold' not entirely easy to watch. Theatre and the arts are supposed to make you feel something. Stories are historically polarising; not everyone is going to appreciate it or understand it or like it. A politically incendiary story can create a discussion that may lead to broader minds and with any luck brings acceptance through understanding. These are the stories that can not rest until they are told. I watched this show twice. The only thing genuinely disappointing about 'City of Gold' is that it is not a history lesson, but a wakeup call.
Next show will be in Griffin Theatre Company, NSW. 26 July - 31 August 2019
MEYNE WYATT Breythe
JEREMY AMBRUM Cliffhanger
MAITLAND SCHNAARS Dad (Byron Black)
SHARI SEBBENS Carina
MATHEW COOPER Mateo
ANTHONY STANDISH Andrews/Whitman/Reporter/Redneck/Bar Patron
CHRISTOPHER STOLLERY Simmonds/Director/Acting Commander/George/Bar Patron
Warning This show contains adult themes, theatrical haze, strobe lighting and the smoking of herbal cigarettes.