Our February picks for community theatre
John Kachoyan - AustralianPlays.org Literary Manager
Hello and welcome to a brand new year – 2016 and it’s already nearly the end of February. To kick off the New Year I have chosen two plays which couldn;’t really be any different if they tried! They are written over 20 years apart from writers of different generations and genders. So what links them? Why have I put them together? Because they have amazing roles for actors!!
Rhonda is in Therapy by Bridgette Burton was the recipient of an RE Ross Trust development award and premiered at 45 Downstairs in Melbourne in 2012. It is a delicious blend of quirky comedy, some seriously sexy moments and an absorbing and horribly dark back-story that drives the action of the play. What pulls all of this together into a cohesive whole is that it treats the subject of grief (in this case the loss of a child) with all of the complexity and bewilderment such an experience engenders. This is a complex work that demands special handling, but the rewards for both those making the production and those watching are enormous.
Even though The Incorruptible (by legendary Sydney playwright Louis Nowra) was written over twenty years ago, its themes are still fairly scarily present. Originally commissioned and performed by Playbox Theatre in Melbourne as a co-production with Sydney Theatre Company, its story concerns the rise of an ultra right-wing politician - hand-picked by a king-maker - whose policies suddenly seem to make sense to what has previously been assumed to be a centre-left public. This behind-the-scenes glimpse at the political process is both fascinating and appalling, and the play is full to the brim with delicate, wry and sometimes belly-laugh funny scenes. What The Incorruptible does so well is to dramatise the seductive quality of the right wing; its simplicity and its insistence on basic, simple answers, which can be such a devastating weapon against the left. This is a timely moment for revival as the world stage grapples desperately with how to cope with the seemingly insurmountable complexity of mass migration and climate change. It is also a gift for actors, directors and designers. I say this every second month, but this is one of the many Australian plays that really needs and deserves more productions. It is part of a treasure trove of plays that are rich, intelligent and highly theatrical – and that languish on the shelf. Brig ‘em back I say. I’ll certainly come and see them!
Tom Healey, Literary Manager