Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Reconciliation Concert 2023


Reconciliation Concert 2023Yothu Yindi with Alinta Barlow and Stewart Barton at Canberra Theatre Centre, Sunday May 28 2023.

Reviewed by Frank McKone

‘Coming together’ was the theme in word, song and practice at Yothu Yindi’s Reconciliation Concert on the eve of the Reconciliation Day public holiday in the Australian Capital Territory.  

The 1200-seat theatre audience were at one together in insisting on two encores after their standing ovation.  The 7pm show, after support performances by local First Nations singers Stewart Barton and Alinta Barlow, and a 20 minute interval, finally ended at 10.30pm – three and a half very worthwhile hours with great significance for the whole country: a powerful Indigenous Voice sent out from Australia’s Federal Parliamentary city.

Yothu Yindi have a lengthy history [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yothu_Yindi ].  Around ten years before the band was formed in 1986 – by merging a “a white rock group called the Swamp Jockeys” with “an unnamed Aboriginal folk group consisting of Mandawuy Yunupingu, Witiyana Marika and Milkayngu Mununggur” – I had the privilege of meeting that old man Wandjuk Marika, at a drama-in-education conference where he, with a younger man, presented a Yolgnu culture demonstration.  A completely new experience for us Balanda, or “Watharr Yolngu” – meaning “White Humans”.

Amazingly, in 1979 Marika was gonged with an Order of the British Empire, despite his continued actions to prevent mining corporations destroying Yolngu land, physically and culturally.  He was also a radical within his community, as he told me, because he saw the need for his culture to be taken out to the wider world, not kept protected, private and secret.  

Before Marika died in 1987, Yothu Yindi – an expression of unity in diversity, a relationship of difference (child-mother) out of which stems good society – came to pass, merging traditional ‘folk’ music with white ‘rock’.  

Meanwhile in 1982 I had taken drama students to the first ROM Ceremony outside traditional country, brought from Maningrida to the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies here in Canberra.  “In the languages of Yolngu Matha, the foundation of the relationship between country and its people is called Rom. Rom is a complex word that has no direct translation equivalent in English; it has deep roots that start from the time of creation, extending to the present and into the future. Rom is like a tree, standing firm, not like grass that comes and goes with every season.”  
Arafura Swamp Rangers Aboriginal Corporation http://asrac.org.au  › culture › rom 

A book is now available:


ROM An Aboriginal Ritual of Discovery - Stephen A. Wild (editor)
Regular price $13.00 at AIATSIS Shop

Marika’s desire for ‘coming together’ has spread throughout Australia, as the history of Yothu Yindi shows https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yothu_Yindi and for me was brought to a new stage as we saw not only the mother ‘Yindi’ but the child ‘Yothu’ represented last Sunday by the young emerging local First Nations performers.  Our host was Wiradjuri teenager Tahalianna Soward-Mahanga with her own strength of singing voice, song-writing and managing the event with warmth and friendship.

Stewart Barton, born in Canberra and making a point of his performing on Ngunnawal land, presented songs from personal experiences in different relationships, focussed on his second single ‘Waiting on You’.  Proud Ngunnawal woman, Alinta Barlow, gave us a series of songs documenting her period of life finding new relationships, recognising and appreciating her love for her father after his death; the change when leaving the family home; and in young adult life producing a withering condemnation of some men’s behaviour towards women in ‘Alpha Man’.

And then as the Yothu Yindi show progressed through songs, many of whose titles are on this delightful running sheet gaffed to a tree somewhere:

two of the families’ little children – maybe 3 and 6 – appeared on stage, already showing their learning of how to play the clap-sticks.  Just so cute – and another ‘coming together’, of the Generations.

It was fascinating too, at least for me, and it could be for you if you have seen my recent review of the book by Don Watson, The Passion of Private White (here and at www.frankmckone2.blogspot.com May 18, 2023) which covers 50 years of Dr Neville White’s relationship as “a bit of the ‘Anthropologist as Hero’” with Yolgnu elder “Tom Gunaminy Bidingal, the man who steadfastingly held on to his Yolgnu social principles”.  Here was another story of ‘coming together’ across cultural boundaries along quite different lines from the Marika and Yunupingu Yothu Yindi story.

To have now experienced a Yothu Yindi musical – and I must say, theatrical – performance is a recognition of the strength and importance of First Nations and their value in Australian culture.  Treaty, perhaps still their most famous song after some 40 years of Yothu Yindi’s life so far, includes the words:

Now two rivers run their course
Separated for so long
I'm dreaming of a brighter day
When the waters will be one

Let us look forward, then, coming together to vote Yes for Voice, Makarrata, Treaty and Truth in this year’s ultimate Reconciliation Referendum.  It’s the least we could do in appreciation for Yothu Yindi’s 2023 Reconciliation Concert.






Monday, May 29, 2023


"Shared Languages Pt.3" choreographed by Ruth Osborne & Lordfai Navinda Pachimaswat.

Choreographers” Alice Lee Holland, Kyall Shanks, Lordfai Navinda Pachimsawat and Ruth Osborne.

Composers: Adam Ventoura and Kevin Inthawong – Film by Wildbear Digital.

Costume Design by Cate Clelland – Lighting Design by Antony Hateley.

Canberra Theatre Centre Playhouse: 18th – 20th May 2023.

Performance on 19th May reviewed by BILL STEPHENS.

"Shared Languages Part 2" choreographed by Ruth Osborne, assisted by Stephen Gow.

Quantum Leap’s annual Playhouse season is its major presentation for the year. For this presentation QL2 commissions professional choreographers, composers and creatives to work with its young dancers to create works based on a theme chosen by its Artistic Director, Ruth Osborne. This year that theme was communication.

QL2 Dance has widened its reach over the years inviting young dancers and choreographers from beyond the Canberra region, and even internationally, to participate in these annual presentations.

This year, celebrating a 20 year relationship with QL2, a large contingent of dancers from the Bangkok Dance Academy in Thailand travelled to Canberra to participate, bringing with them a dance work choreographed by it Artistic Director.


"Holding Space" choreographed by Alice Lee Holland

"Communicate" commenced with a work by West Australian choreographer now working with Dance North, Alice Lee Holland, which set the tone and style for the evening. Created in collaboration with the dancers, as were all the works in the program, “Holding Space”, featured moodily-lit group work punctuated by breakout solos built on the particular talents of individual dancers. Particularly interesting features of this work were the staccato movement for the dancers and the sung vocalisations incorporated as a means of communication.

Tightly choreographed group movement and breakout solos were also features of “Echo Chamber” created by Kyall Shanks, who’s currently working with Tasdance as well as Artistic Director of the professional youth dance company, Yellow Wheel.

"Echo Chamber" choreographed by Kyall Shanks

Shanks made interesting use of quick blackouts to create tableaus reminiscent of a bygone living statues technique, revealing the dancers in different combinations each time the lights come up. The work demanded and received an admirably disciplined performance by dancers.

The final work “Shared Language” was presented in three sections commencing with the most intriguing work of the evening, “Organised Chaos”, choreographed by the Creative Director of the Bangkok Dance Academy, Lordfai Navinda Phachimsawa, and performed by the eight members of Bangkok Dance Academy. 

"Organised Chaos" choreographed by Lordfai Navinda Phachimsawa

To a soundscape composed by Kevin Inthawong which commenced surprisingly with excerpts from two familiar Strauss waltzes, “Blue Danube” and “Wiener Blut”, the eight dancers, individually costumed in bright coloured, layered costumes, performed movements which worked against the beat of the music.

"Organised Chaos" choreographed by Lordfai Navinda Pachimsawat.

As the music changed tone and mood, the dancers shed their outer layers revealing earth-coloured shorts and tops to perform a series of tightly choreographed unison movements which required fastidious communal communication between the performers, thereby respecting the theme of the program.

The second section of “Shared Language” was choreographed by QL2 Dance Artistic director, Ruth Osborne, with the assistance of Steve Gow, echoed the style set by the first two works to focus on how electronic screens and telephones have affected our communication methods.

"Finale" choreographed by Ruth Osborne. 

As the work transitioned into its final section, the ensemble was joined by the BDA dancers for a joyful celebration of the value of dance as a shared language for creating deeper understanding of each other’s similarities and differences.

The performance ended with what has become QL2’s  signature Osborne finale for which the dancers seamlessly morph together with other members of the works in which they have performed to execute a few movements from that work then take a group bow.

All the works were particularly well performed by the dancers whose ages ranged from 13 to 23. Other than for “Organised Chaos”, for which the BDA provided their own music and costumes, all the other works were enhanced by Cate Clelland’s tasteful, relaxed-cut costumes; the moody, inventive soundscapes by Adam Ventoura; Antony Hateley’s superbly focussed lighting and wonderfully evocative images by Wildbear Digital. 

                                                          Images by Lorna Sim  

\This review also published in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW. www.artsreview.com.au 




Sunday, May 28, 2023




The Alphabet of Awesome Science

Written and directed by David Lampard. Stage Manager Amanda Rowe. Composer Mark Simeon Ferguson. Sound designer  Rodney Hutton. Lighting designer Mark Oakley. That Science Gang. Lighthouse Theatre. The Q. Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. May 26-27 2023.

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins


The wonder of words combines with the magic of science in Lighthouse Theatre’s  fascinating and ingenious production of The Alphabet of Awesome Science. Although targeted at 5-12 year olds to excite their inquisitive wonderment at the mysteries of science, this turbo charged show is a must see for all ages. Writer David Lampard’s use of the letters of the alphabet to discover words to describe the scientific phenomena behind 26 scientific demonstrations is truly awesome.  

To warm up the audience and excite their curiosity, the two professors introduce the intrigued audience to a board with 26 numbers. Members of the audience are randomly invited to call out a number which is then lifted off the board to reveal a letter of the alphabet. One by one each letter is revealed until all 26 have been selected in any order. This means that each show will be different according to the sequence of choices. For each letter, word nerd Lexi Con introduces and explains an unfamiliar word that describes the principle behind a practical demonstration that is carried out by science freak Noel Edge. For example a member of the audience chooses one of the 26 numbers to reveal the letter E. Con excitedly introduces the word Erumpent, an adjective meaning bursting forth. Edge then demonstrates the word using liquid nitrogen to fill and burst a balloon, by cooling the water vapour in the air which then condenses to form a large cloud which is condensed water vapour not smoke and the audience is warned of the loud bang which occurs when the cloud expands to burst the balloon. I offer this as an example but I urge readers to go to www.alphabetofscience.com to discover the amazing secrets of the show’s exploration of the miraculous world of science.

But this is no dry exhibition of unfamiliar words and science lab experiments. To up the ante and set the excitement barometer at full notch, Con and Edge give themselves only 52 minutes to rocket through 26 letters and words that describe Professor Edge’s demonstrations. The heat is on and the show is set on its combustible course of scientific wonderment. To add to the tension, the experiment is interrupted by Professor Edge’s propensity for puns and groan inducing Dad jokes and occasional lavatory humour or even Professor Con’s enthusiastic choreography. In a show as slick and snappy as this, timing is crucial and the two performers are superbly adroit at staying on task while the audience sits in amazement or laughing hysterically at the antics while ducking the water and rockets that dart over the front rows. This is science that explodes with slapstick and suspense, keeping the audience transfixed while the clock ticks away.

At such a crackerjack pace I doubt that much of the information will stick. Wide eyed kids and grownups alike are too absorbed in the sheer entertainment to recall the scientific details or remember the obscure words that Professor Lexi Con magically plucks out of the air. But that is neither here nor there. What does matter is that The Alphabet of Awesome Science is most likely to excite and inspire kids to study science and for adults to once again marvel at the wonders of the world about them. Just imagine how exciting school would be if every class had a Professor Noel Edge and a Professor Lexi Con.  Now that would be really awesome!   

“Well-tempered Bach,” Thoroughbass early music ensemble. At Wesley Music Centre, May 27. Reviewed by HELEN MUSA.


Weston, L and Arnott, R. Photo: Peter Hislop

THOROUGHBASS early music ensemble, founded by Sydney harpsichordist Diana Weston, is on an avowed mission is to uncover the unusual, the recently re-discovered, and to see familiar things in a new light. Its newest concert, “Well-tempered Bach,” was the perfect illustration of all three aims.

Performed by Weston and Central coast conductor/recorder player, Joanne Arnott, this recital focused on compositions suitable for this combination of instruments, beginning with Bach and Telemann, continuing with a threnody by Elena Kats-Chernin, and, of great interest to Canberra music aficionados, concluding with a commissioned from former Canberra composer, Katia Tiutiunnik, a prizewinning PhD. graduate in composition from the ANU.

The program took its title from JSBach’s collection for keyboard, "The well-tempered Clavier," but in fact they performed just one work from that – Bach’s Prelude And Fugue Number IV from Book I in C sharp minor, satisfying the “unusual” aim in that the theme comprises only four notes.

The first half of the program also uncluded Bach’s “Sonata in F for treble and continuo” and his “Fourteen Canons on the First Eight Notes” theme from the Goldberg Variations, Telemann’s “Methodical Sonata No. 4 for treble and continuo” and Bach’s Sonata in A Minor alternative fur Altblockflöte und obligates Cembalo, originally written as a flute sonata, but adapted from recorder.

Joanne Arnott, R. Photo: Peter Hislop

The complexity of these compositions and the physical necessities of the recorder meant that there was restraint in emotional contact with the audience, except when Arnott performed on the treble recorder. The pauses in between movements allowing Arnott to change between her four recorders gave the recital at this point an almost academic flavour, accessible to recorder connoisseurs.

The second half of the recital turned to contemporary Australian compositions, beginning with Kats-Chernin’s work “Green Leaf,” written in memory of Elke Neidhardt, director of many works for Opera Australia, who had died in 2014.

Originally written for unaccompanied piano, this composition has been repurposed by Weston for harpsichord and recorder to great effect, although Weston was at pains to emphasise that every note was as written by Kats-Chernin’s.

Here the harpsichord provided a percussive bass line, while Arnott’s recorder provided the sad melody.

The finale was Tiutiunnik’s now-completed trilogy (it began in 2022) “Iluminada: Três Reflexões sobre Fátima ["Illuminated: Three Reflections on Fatima"] for harpsichord and recorder,” commissioned by Thoroughbass.

Dianan Weston. Photo: Peter Hislop

The work was inspired by visitations of the Blessed Virgin to three young children in Fátima, Portugal during 1917, known as the "Fatima” visitations.

Hugely controversial in the Catholic Church because of their predictive visions of apocalyptic chaos, some secrets of the visitation have been suppressed by the Vatican until now. The event has long-fascinated Tiutiunnik, who spent time in Rome the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.

Tiutiunnik's repertoire is considerable. As a young composer in Canberra she created a work for violin and orchestra (in honour of Queen Noor of Jordan, and while completing her doctorate at the ANU, she also took out honours in Arabic, adding to her musical vocabulary the ecstatic traditions of Islam, not unlike the experiences at Fatima.

In composing “Iluminada,” the melodies of her “three reflections” are written in the Japanese Akebono scale, a pentatonic scale closely resembling a western minor key.

The solemn first moment, "Shadows of Secrets", was captured by Arnott on tenor recorder, while the second, “Rainha Resplandecente,” ["Resplendent Queen"] performed on the descant recorder, was full of lively animation, suggestive of a Chinese flute.

This fascinating finale came to a conclusion with the ecstatic ”Dança Sagrada” [“Sacred Dance”] where both harpsichord and flute combined pleasingly to give the sense of a wild dance.



Saturday, May 27, 2023



Ruben Guthrie by Brendan Cowell.

Directed by Ryan Street.   Assistant director Annabelle Hansen, Producer Fiona Xu, Stage Manager Ro McPhee, Choreographer Amy McDonald, Props Ro McPhee and Annabelle Hansen, Photographer and videographer Jeremy Tsuei ,Sound design Ryan Street, Lighting design Ryan Street and Fiona Xu, Lighting technician and Graphic design Fiona Xu, Sound technician Ro McPhee, Video editing Ro McPhee and Ryan Street. Cast:  Sam Collingwood,Maxine Eayrs,Mischa Rippon,Grace Fletcher,Richard Manning,Adele Lewin,Anthony Mayne. Wander Theatre in collaboration with NUTS. ACT HUB. May 25-27 2023

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

Maxine Eayrs as Virginia. Simon Collingwood as Ruben

 The secret to a successful launch of a new theatre company is to choose a play with real grit and a cast that is wedded to the characters and their circumstances, a director with a mission and a receptive audience that feels involved. Wander Theatre’s production of Brendan Cowell’s has all this in a most impressive debut at ACT HUB. Ruben Guthrie is a modern parable about the evils of addiction and alcohol in particular. It is also a warning 0f the causes and consequences of reliance on alcohol consumption.. Ruben Guthrie (Simon Collingwood) is a brilliant creative director of a top notch advertising agency, Subliminal, run by  advertising executive Ray (Richard Manning.) Success and wealth deal Guthrie a cocktail of booze and daredevilry when he tries to fly and falls off a hotel balcony. We meet him when the play opens with his arm in a sling, a bandaid across his forehead and his ego somewhat bruised but not beaten. After all, he is the invincible Ruben Guthrie with his fast cars, his flash apartment and his beautiful Czech supermodel Soya (Grace Fletcher) on his arm at all the big events.

Director Ryan Street sets his action between audience on two sides of the stage, subtly involving them  as participants in an AA meeting and later a Home Group run by the no nonsense hard truth hitting Virginia (Maxine Eayrs). However, it is only when Soya decides to leave Guthrie and return home to Europe that Guthrie promises to abstain from alcohol for a year in order to win Soya back. This is goal targeted therapy and an open door to temptation from boss Ray, advertising mate Damian (Mischa Rippon), recently returned from New York and his alcoholic father (Anthony Mayne) It is further complicated by his relationship with Virginia. Adele Lewin completes the scenario with her portrayal of Guthrie’s mother, obstinately in denial of her son’s addiction and fraught with the feelings of helplessness as Guthrie eventually descends into a self-destructive spiral.

Under Street’s purposeful direction, the production assumes an inevitability that provides the opportunities for redemption but is thwarted by the force of the addiction. In a final image set in the hospital Cowell ‘s relentless prophesy reveals a spectre of doom if the messages of hope are ignored. We are left to seriously question the efficacy of therapy and social intervention, when at every turn Guthrie is confronted by the power of temptation, revealed with chilling realism in the scene between Damian and Guthrie as he succumbs again to the euphoria of his addiction. If the fall from the roof was not enough, nor the loss of his true love, then Wander Theatre’s portrayal of Guthrie’s sacrificial fall and its deadly consequence should send shockwaves through anyone teetering perilously on the precipice of addiction.

Anthony Mayne as Dad. Simon Collingwood as Ruben

Street keeps the action fluid with cast moving wine racks for walls and furniture between scenes to an evocative song list. My only criticism is with the raked seating that afforded difficult sightlines to anyone further back than the second row. As most of the action was standing this helped to be involved in the performance. This involvement was also helped by strong casting. As the protagonist, Collingwood’s performance was riveting as he ran the rollercoaster gamut of emotion. Every scene echoes with raw reality in a production that is a highly commendable flagbearer for Wander Theatre. It is unfortunate that the season is so short. Ruben Guthrie is a play too important to ignore. 

RUBEN GUTHRIE - Wander Theatre


Sam Collingwood as Ruben Guthrie

Written by Brendan Cowell – Directed by Ryan Street

Set design by Roz Hall and Mike Hall - Sound Design by Ryan Street

 Choreography by Amy McDonald – Props by Ro McPhee and Annabelle Hansen.

ACT Hub May 25 – 27 : Performance on May 25 reviewed by BILL STEPHENS.

This is the first production presented by Wander Theatre at ACT Hub, and is presented in conjunction with ACT Hub Development. It is impressive on so many levels.

Premiered at Belvoir Downstairs in 2008, Brendan Cowell’s play, “Ruben Guthrie” taps into a deep vein of Australian life. It asks the question, is it un-Australian to refuse a drink?’ with dialogue that is bleak, uncompromisingly coarse and often confronting, and as far as this writer is aware, this is the first Canberra production of this play.

Though Cowell's characters are flawed and hardly admirable, each has a compelling authenticity that makes the dialogue and the responses of the characters to their situations, immediately recognisable. 

The audience is introduced to Ruben Guthrie at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where Guthrie is reluctantly baring his soul. He shares that he’s 29, the Creative Director of a cutting-edge advertising agency and engaged to a Czech supermodel. He exalts in being the life of the party.

The story dissolves into a series of flashbacks as the audience watch the events he is describing. It then continues in real time as the consequences of his responses to various events and characters play out.  

Sam Collingwood plays Ruben Guthrie. He gives a charismatic, enthralling performance that is so achingly committed and authentic that it’s impossible not to empathise with the character he has created, while being appalled at his decisions and actions.

Grace Fletcher (Zoya) - Sam Collingwood (Ruben Guthrie) - Maxine Eayrs (Virginia)
 in "Ruben Guthrie.

Grace Fletcher plays the supermodel Zoya, attracted by Guthrie’s charisma, deeply in love with him, but increasingly confused by his irresponsibility and lack of commitment. Zoya has a rival for Guthrie’s affections in Virginia, played by Maxine Aeyrs, who sees in Guthrie someone she can mould to achieve her own ambitions. Virginia is convinced her controlling methods will advantage both their futures.   

The third woman in Guthrie’s life is his mother Susan, played by Adele Lewin. The daughter of an alcoholic and married to another, Susan’s misguided attempts to save her son from his predicament only exacerbates his problem.

Nor are the three most significant men in his life any more helpful. His alcoholic father, played by Anthony Mayne, has difficulty in relating with his son, other than over alcohol.  

Guthrie's best friend Damien (Mischa Rippon) is homosexual and already addicted to alcohol and heroin. Damien encourages Guthrie to return to their old carousing lifestyle, not out of any concern for Guthrie’s welfare but to achieve his own goals.

Even Guthrie’s boss Ray,(Richard Manning), himself alcohol lubricated, sees Guthrie’s talents as relying on drugs and alcohol for its success.     

These characters were all realised with impressive finesse and confidence by each member of the cast, allowing the audience to become absorbed in the play rather than distracted by the competence of the actors. 

Particularly impressive was the way the actors avoided chasing the laughs. As it happens, despite the seriousness of the subject matter, there are plenty of laughs in the play, but these actors allowed any laughs to arise from the situation. Even when sitting on the sidelines, offstage, the actors maintained concentration, re-acting to the lines in character, as if they were still part of the on-stage action.

Similarly the quality of Ryan Street’s directing impressed. His production was staged on the floor of the hub, with the audience seated on either side of the acting area. Wine racks, cubes and a few key props made up the simple setting.  These racks and cubes were moved around quickly and efficiently by the actors and support staff to create various locales required by the play. Necessary props were removed or placed in position by the actors.

This staging proved so effective that it was not until later the realisation occurred that Sam Collingwood as Ruben Guthrie had not left the stage during the entire performance, except at interval, spending the entire performance, reacting and responding to the situations while the setting was changed around him.  

Maxine Eayrs (Virginia) - Sam Collingwood (Ruben Guthrie)
in "Ruben Guthrie"

The quality of the acting and production for “Ruben Guthrie” was of such standard to send one searching for the program and information about Wander Theatre and its members.  Maddeningly, as is becoming increasingly the case, the program was only accessible by QR code. Even then, it proved unhelpful in providing information as to the theatrical backgrounds of either the actors or the creatives.  The Wander Theatre website was no more helpful.

None-the-less, one must be thankful to ACT Hub Development for bringing Wander Theatre to attention. One looks forward to future discoveries through this initiative.   


                                        Production images by  Jeremy Tsuei

Thursday, May 25, 2023

THE TRIALS - Canberra Youth Theatre

Written by Dawn King – Directed by Luke Rogers

Lighting design by Ethan Hammill – Sound designer and composer – Patrick Haesler

Canberra Theatre Centre Courtyard Studio: 19 -28 May 2023.

Performance on May 24th reviewed by BILL STEPHENS.

The Jurors come to a verdict

For those in the audience of a certain age, “The Trails”, is uncomfortable viewing. Dawn King’s sobering imagining of a dystopian future in which the younger generation cull their elders in order to survive themselves has enjoyed great success overseas. 

This production by the Canberra Youth Theatre is its Australian premiere.

The play takes the form of a series of trials which are meant to take place over a period of two weeks.     A jury of twelve young people is tasked with having to decide the fates of older adults who have been called before it to justify their treatment of the planet, in an effort to avoid compulsory euthanization.

 After listening to each defendant, the jury will then have to decide who, if any, will escape the death sentence.

The jurors are played by Edith Baggoley, Imogen Bigsby-Chamberlin, Genevieve Bradley, Alexi Clark Mitchell, Kat Dunkerley, Matthew Hogan,  Joshua James, Aadhya Karthik,  Sebastian Leigh, Tara Saxena, Phoebe Silberman and Jacqueline Tatam.                                                                               

With the audience arranged on either side of the playing area, and the jury members at either end, the first three victims, played by Michael Sparks, Zsuzsi Soboslay and Elaine Noon, are ushered in by a mysterious faceless figure, one by one.  

After each has presented their monologue they are dismissed without being questioned, and the jurors then argue the merits or otherwise of each victim’s case.

 However as the jurors begin to examine each victim’s arguments, their own individual motives and ethics come under question, and deep divisions begin to appear.

Matthew Hogan - Tara Saxena - Alexi Clark Mitchell - Phoebe Silberman and Jacqueline Tatum
deliberate in Canberra Youth Theatre's production of "The Trial".

It’s a fascinating premise which the cast of young actors tackle with obvious commitment. The acting is variable, and while there has been significant improvement in efforts to project voices and slow down delivery, some otherwise good performances were spoiled by a tendency to shout dialogue rather than explore the effectiveness of a more nuanced delivery.

That said, this play is very much an ensemble play in which the twelve young actors are on stage for the entire presentation. It is presented without interval with the audience seated either side. There is nowhere to hide.  That the entire cast was able to maintain concentration and character throughout was admirable.   

Luke Rogers has produced a compelling production of an important play that raises many uncomfortable questions about humanity and survival.  



                                               Images by Ben Appleton - Photox. 

This review is also published in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW. www.artsreview.com.au