Our August picks for tertiary study
11 Aug 2015
John Kachoyan - AustralianPlays.org Literary Manager
The two works I have chosen this month form a fairly high contrast between them, although both are vivid and strong pieces of work. 100 Reasons for War by Tom Holloway is a recent commission for Blue Cow Theatre in Hobart and Salt Creek Murders by Melissa Reeves was originally commissioned by the now sadly defunct Mainstreet Theatre in Mount Gambier, South Australia.
Salt Creek Murders is based on a real case in nineteenth century Australia. Nellie is an Irish immigrant who has opened a Bed and Breakfast in lonely and isolated Salt Creek, South Australia. She hires another Irish woman, Jane as a domestic help. A series of murders begin, mysterious at first, but slowly Jane comes to suspect Nellie’s lover, Malachi… This is a thriller – it unfolds very slowly and is intensely atmospheric, but also unexpectedly funny. The fact that it is based on a real life case (or series of cases) just gives it a bit more edge… Reeves is well known for her unusual and quirky comic style and here it is given full rein. It includes two fabulous roles for women, as well as great roles for the guys and a brilliant challenge in design. One of the characters is indigenous. This is a corker script with great characters and a wry and incisive view of colonial Australia. A lot of fun to be had with this one.
Holloway’s 100 Reasons for War was recently featured as a Red Door publication (you can read my introduction here). In this year of the centenary of the Gallipoli landing there have been many works which reflect, celebrate and/or remember our contribution to World War One and this, for me, is absolutely the most remarkable. It makes no exact reference to WW1 or the landing, but is rather a reflection on the nature and impact of war. Holloway is one of the sharpest and most incisive playwrights on the scene at the moment and this work is both theatrically strong and delightful. It has a flexible cast – as many or as few as you like and a totally open brief in terms of mis-en-scéne. It would be a great shame if it only ever got produced once – I really hope someone, or some people, will take up the challenge and give a wider audience a chance to see it. PS: This would be SO MUCH FUN to do!
Tom Healey, Literary Manager