Liberty Equality Fraternity is a play currently showing at the Ensemble Theatre in Kirribilli. Like many of the Ensemble's plays it features a single room set with a small cast (3 actors) who are essentially locked in for the duration of the play with nothing to do but 'speak to us'. The Ensemble's steep tiered seating into a small semi hexagonal stage essentially requires this and thus, sharp dialogue and convincing characterisation are the microscopic focus of this little seaside gem.
For the duration of the play, the two voices we have are the childish tinny confidence of Andrew Ryan and middle aged rational exasperation of Caroline Brazier. Orlagh (Brazier) has been brought in for questioning by the young and impressionable 'Archy' who may or may not be a trainee. Close to the end the ambivalent intelligence of Helmut Bakaitus (who some will remember as the architect from the Matrix trilogy) wraps things up in a calm, confident and slightly scary antithesis to Archy's still breaking tones. He does well to leave us with a tickling sense of doom.
The progression focuses on shared information through digital mediums like Facebook and explores the powerlessness of the individual to resist or effectively respond to terrorist related interrogation. More than anything, the play is a comedy. The constant focus and misdirection of Archy's professional aims, Orlagh's stressful 'stripping down' and the not specifically present political machine informing the whole process work very well to enmesh the audience in the moment of the conversation, while moving us through a satisfying but not structurally obvious plot.
The play is funny throughout and the use of webcams and visible computer work are a great modern touch to bring the audience into the process of human information systems. The play, written by Geoffrey Atherden is not particularly ambitious and serves more as a grouping or articulation of privacy ideas already present in the Australian national consciousness. Nonetheless it is valuable and important for this diaspora of ideas to find pithy and functional form in the Theatre.