Saturday, August 5, 2023




Written and directed by Rachel Pengilly. Composer, sound designer and Production Manager Shannon Parnell. Set design and construction Mel Davies and Lachlan Davies. Costume design Helen Wojtas. Lightiing design. Jacob Aquilina. Movement director and stage manager Hannah Pengilly. Fight director Jim Punnett. Assistant stage manager and Props Master Dania Anderson. Dramaturg  Jordan Best. Cast: Tamara Brammall, Tom Bryson, Christopher Samuel Carroll, Tom Cullen, Joshue James, Chips, Jack Morton, Zoe Ross, Heidi Silberman, Phoebe Silberman, Toby Silberman  A Q THE LOCALS and RIBIX Production. The Q. Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre.  August 2-5 2023 Bookings 62856290

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

The Arran Stowaways with First Mate James Kerr

 Rachel Pengilly has made a very impressive debut as a mainstage director and playwright of Legacies ,currently on stage at The Q in Queanabeyan. Part of the success of RIBIX’s production is that the events of the play are based on a true story of six young Scottish lads who stowed away on the Arran, bound from Glasgow to Quebec. When discovered  they suffer beatings, cruelty and even torture at the hands of the sadistic mate (Christopher Samuel Carroll). When the ship becomes stuck in ice the young stowaways are cast onto the ice by the captain (Tom Cullen) and made to walk twelve miles to the shore. Pengilly has turned this story into a powerful tale of cruelty, endurance, cameraderie and sacrifice. The play is a work of personal passion. Pengilly’s ancestor David Brand (Jack Morton) was one of the stowaways, and Pengilly has researched thoroughly her great great great grandfather’s story as well as contacting the descendantss of the other boys. Her play resonates with  authenticity, and the cast under Pengilly’s direction imbue their performances with total conviction.

Chips and Christopher Samuel Carroll in Legacies

Visually, the production is greatly enhanced by Tanner Clark’s design concept of suspended sailcloths and the wooden construction of the Arran’s deck and focsle. Jacob Aquilina’s lighting evokes the atmosphere which is superbly complemented by Shannon Pannell’s composition and sound design. The carefully considered production values totally immerse the audience in the drama. Movement director Hannah Pengilly has made the most of physical theatre to represent key moments in the play and the fight sequences are effectively staged by Jim Punnett. There is strong cohesion of all production elements in this ensemble performance and playwright Pengilly tells the story clearly and expressively. It may take some time for the ear to adjust to the accents and I lost quite a bit of the dialogue in the first half. In the second half of the play as the young boys struggle across the vast expanse of ice the drama is riveting. I am disturbed by the sight of two of the actors in bare feet and my credibility wavers although I am assured that two of the five outcasts were in fact barefoot. It adds to the desperate will to survive.

Phoebe Silberman in Legacies

Legacies is a moral fable of choice and consequence. The lads’ quest for adventure, born of naïve assumption became a tale of terror and fatality. A mother (Heidi Silberman) mourns the loss of her child and both John Paul (Joshua James) and James Bryson (Tom Bryson) endure the guilt of felt responsibility. It is also a tale of survival, largely due to the humane action of a Newfoundlander Catherine Ann Gillis MacInnis, played by Silberman. In a moment of grim reflection, Brand grieves for those who were denied a future and for the generations robbed of the chance of life. Pengilly, who is one of a generation that lives because of Brand’s survival ends her moving and ultimately uplifting play on a note of hope.

The Q Theatre’s Artistic Director Jordan Best has introduced an opportunity for local artists to explore and develop their passion for theatre. With Legacies she has unveiled a highly promising playwright and director in Rachel Pengilly as well as providing the opportunity for her company and its artists to shine.  Legacies is a highly commendable debut that offers great promise of things to come.