|Dylan Van Den Berg - Katie Beckett - Roxane McDonald
Ginny Savage – Set and costumes designed by Imogen Keen
designed by Gerry Corcoran – Sound designed by Peter Bailey
Theatre, Canberra, 4 – 12th June 2021.
Reviewed by Bill Stephens
$30,000.00 Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting in the 2021 NSW Premier’s
Literary Awards, Dylan Van Den Berg’s elegiac play, “Milk” tells the story of
three ancestors who are brought together in a metaphysical memory place with
the opportunity to share knowledge of their ancestry and ask the difficult
questions of each other.
slated for production in 2020, “Milk” has been in development by The Street
through its First Seen program since 2018. Following an interruption to the
process by Covid-19, this premiere production of “Milk” became The Street’s
inaugural production for 2021, with direction intrusted to NIDA graduate, Ginny
Savage, who was initially involved with its development as dramaturg.
characters in “Milk” are simply listed in the program as Character’ A, B, and C.
Roxanne McDonald plays A, an elderly aboriginal woman from 1840’s Flinders’
Island in Tasmania. Kylie Becket plays B; a sharp-tongued, middle-aged Tasmanian
aboriginal woman from 1960’s perpetually trapped in the ritual of getting ready
for a date. Dylan Van Den Berg, himself, plays C, a young Palawa man wrestling
with the complexities of aligning himself with his indigenous legacies.
|Dylan Van Den Berg - Roxanne McDonald -Katie Beckett
Apart from a
couple of spot-lit soliloquies, the three characters occupy the stage for the
duration of the play, which is presented without interval. A gorgeous environment
of rocks, wood shavings and decaying church pews enhanced by Gerry Corcoran’s artful lighting design suggesting mountain
sunsets and sunrises, and Peter Bailey’s evocative soundscape with its soft bird-calls
and distant digeridoos, conjures up a haunting atmosphere of timelessness in
which the three characters attempt to reconcile what came before the onslaught
Of course there are no solutions, and some of the revelations are disturbing, but Van Den Berg’s thoughtful, questioning play is a worthy recipient of accolades it has so far received, and of this beautiful, haunting production by The Street.
Images by CRESWICK COLLECTIVE
This review also published in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW. www.artsreview.com.au