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Which Way Home - ILBIJERRI Theatre Co & Darebin Arts Speakeasy - Review

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by Jen (subscribe)
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A heartwarming dramady twixt father and daughter
which way home, northcote town hall, darebin arts speakeasy, ilbijerri theatre company, katie beckett, rachael maza, katie beckett, tony briggs, emily barrie, mark coles smith, carly heard, nik pajanti, jane brodie, kellie jayne chambers, ben graetz, play, performing arts, night life, actors
Image courtesy of Ilbijerri Theatre Co

Which Way Home, presented by ILBIJERRI Theatre Company and Darebin Arts Speakeasy didn't have to worry about a record crowd turning up tonight. The waiting area was packed to capacity by the time it was showtime, many enjoying the refreshments on offer.

There was a welcome speech from Gavin Somers, President - Board of Directors, and a traditional welcome speech acknowledging the custodians of the land by Elder of the Wurundjeri people, Aunty Di. Her speech and relaxed tone was warm and calming. She spoke many truths about learning about each other and to live in harmony for global peace. It resonated not only with me, but the rest of the patrons who must have felt the same warmth I felt, imparted by this great lady.

which way home, northcote town hall, darebin arts speakeasy, ilbijerri theatre company, katie beckett, rachael maza, katie beckett, tony briggs, emily barrie, mark coles smith, carly heard, nik pajanti, jane brodie, kellie jayne chambers, ben graetz, play, performing arts, night life, actors
Artistic Director of Which Way Home - Rachael Maza. This & images below by writer

Showtime was around 70 minutes of packed emotions and humour. There were times of emotional silence, peppered by lots of laughter that escaped everyone's lips. The stage was sparse but perfect for the production. The lighting design strongly supported the story. It took us into and out of past and present, highlighting the sands of time; emphasising the mood and era as required. The scenes it set wrenched out of us emotional responses at will. The haunting music of memories and love was the cherry on top.

Stars of the show, Tony Briggs and Katie Beckett, under the direction of Rachael Maza, flawlessly took us on their journey and made the 70 minutes fly. Tash (Beckett) and her dad (Briggs) are on a road trip, home to country, away from the wide streets and big old houses of Tash's childhood. It's time for her much-loved ageing dad to go home. Their journey is filled with reminiscing and laughter, and sometimes the road gets a little bumpy.

which way home, northcote town hall, darebin arts speakeasy, ilbijerri theatre company, katie beckett, rachael maza, katie beckett, tony briggs, emily barrie, mark coles smith, carly heard, nik pajanti, jane brodie, kellie jayne chambers, ben graetz, play, performing arts, night life, actors
LtoR - Elder of the Wurundjeri people, Aunty Di, actor Pauline Whyman & Victorian community Elder Aunty Zeta Thomson, who was also the cultural advisor on 'The Sapphires' movie

Tony Briggs is a star that shines brightly in the sky. He's comfortable in his role, and wears it like a familiar pair of old shoes. His sense of comedy incites laughter from the audience, effortlessly. Just when you think his role is all comedic, he turns serious and jolts you out of your comfort zone of the assumptions you might have had about his role. Such is the star power of this actor, that holds you in his presence.

Katie Beckett holds her own, and the moment of her emotional performance will unexpectedly draw a tear or two from you, involuntarily. When she switches between the role of a very young girl in the flashbacks to present day adult however, the behaviour of the two ages is not always easily defined in the performance. The indicator lies more with the lighting, when it switches between past and present. The whole show is so engrossing; it's not something that's really noticeable, nor does it detract from the overall engaging storytelling. This is a show that you'd want to go back and see all over again. It takes two powerful actors to hold an audience in the palm of their hands, when all there is on set are two people and a few crates, and this they did.

which way home, northcote town hall, darebin arts speakeasy, ilbijerri theatre company, katie beckett, rachael maza, katie beckett, tony briggs, emily barrie, mark coles smith, carly heard, nik pajanti, jane brodie, kellie jayne chambers, ben graetz, play, performing arts, night life, actors
It was full house by showtime

Actor, Writer and Producer, Tony Briggs will forever be linked to 'The Sapphires'. He wrote the Helpmann Award winning play which was first performed in 2004, and later adapted to film, with 'Which Way Home's' very own Director, Rachael Maza playing Gail on stage. Elder Aunty Zeta Thomson, who was at the show (see pic above), was the cultural advisor of 'The Sapphires'.

Katie Beckett wrote 'Which Way Home' simply for the love of her father, and to smash misconceptions about Aboriginal dads. You can hear her talk about it on ABC. No slouch at being a mover and shaker as an artist, Katie has not only appeared in the Logie-winning TV series, for Most Outstanding Drama; Redfern Now (amongst others), she also won The Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright's Award last year for her play about the 'new' stolen generation. She's one to watch!


Encouraged by Elder Aunty Di during her speech to stay back and get to know each other after the show, I have no doubt there was a lot of enjoyment had, through mingling after the performance. Alas I had to run out straight after the show, but I feel truly fortunate to have met Elders Aunty Di and Aunty Zeta, actor Pauline Whyman and Artistic Director Rachael Maza.

Don't miss this show! Get your tickets HERE. There's no performance on Monday (29 Aug) and the show runs till 3 September 2016, so be sure not to miss out. It's at Northcote Town Hall, Studio 1, 189 High st, Northcote. Be aware that latecomers are not permitted, nor is filming or photography. Call Box Office on 9481 9500 to make a booking for Companion Cards, which are accepted. Follow the conversation on the event page and be sure to like the Facebook page for information about upcoming events.
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*Jen was invited as a guest
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Why? Written by Katie Beckett, it's based on her life; growing up with a single Aboriginal father.
When: 24 Aug to 3 Sep 2016 (no performance on Mon 29 Aug). Preview 24 Aug - 8pm, Sunday 5pm
Where: Northcote Town Hall, Studio 1, 189 High St, Northcote, VIC
Cost: Full: $35 Concession: $27 (Student, Health Care Card Holders) Group of 4 or more: $30 each Preview: $22 (24 August) Tuesday: $30 Transaction fees apply - $3.60 online, $5 over the phone
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