Welcome to 2020 - the new season for Queensland Theatre, which got off to a cracking start last night with its production of Emerald City.
Welcome also to Lee Lewis the Theatre's new Artistic Director, who together with Sam Strong, was in conversation with David Williamson before the first staging of the play.
David Williamson, who is a giant of a man physically, is also one of the giants of Australian playwriting and for a period of 50 years, he has been writing about Australia and what it means to be Australian. He is threatening to retire and says that he will not be writing any more plays. Even more reason to hurry up and book your tickets for this production.
Sam Strong, who has been the Artistic Director of Queensland Theatre, came back to direct this one and give it new light.
Emerald City QT
Emerald City - read Sydney - is a wonderful account of of Australia in the 1980s. A good playwright ensures longevity and timelessness to their stories, which are recreated over and over again. The play takes us to the 1980s and we all have a recollection of where we were at the time and what we were doing and how we were doing it.
On stage, we have a vivacious couple, intelligent and talented, a playwright and an author and we meet them as they move from Melbourne to Sydney. The jokes about which city is best or uppermost have the audience in peels of laughter. The couple face challenges as each struggles to bring their life's work or project to fruition. We are introduced to other interesting characters some of whom help and others who hinder, but it is a beautifully articulated, very real and very raw at times, putting our protagonists into moral quandaries and having to make ethical choices. In the end, it affirms their relationship and commitment to one another in a very heartening way.
This is one of David Williamson's finest plays. It talks about what is important in life and what values we hold dear. It puts up impossible choices and principles and then makes a bit of a mockery of them. It points out how we can be swayed by money and the bright lights of success, but always tries to come back to being true to oneself where possible.
It is a play of its time, one of the characters articulates deeply sexist behaviour and language with intakes of breath from the audience. This kind of behaviour or language would no longer be tolerated. Thankfully, we would like to believe we have all moved on from there. Yet the way they strive to chase the success and the money is all to familiar and is as relevant to our lives now as it was in the 1980s.
It is superbly acted by Nadine Garner as Kate, Jason Klarwein as Colin, Megan Hind as Helen and Rhys Muldoon as Mike.
I must also mention the set. Dale Ferguson and David Walters have created this stunningly simple set with the harbour bridge in the background, shimmering lights and glass to capture all those views. Beautifully simple and incredibly versatile.