Jane Harrison – Directed by Wesley Enoch
Elizabeth Gadsby – Lighting Design by Karen Norris
Sound Design: Brendon Boney
Theatre Playhouse 9 – 11th November, 2023.
night performance on 9th November reviewed by BILL STEPHENS.
premiere at the Carriageworks in 2020, Jane Harrison’s play about a meeting of
seven First Nation’s leaders to discuss the arrival of the first fleet, has
become and opera and a book.
are laid out rather in the manner of a contemporary local council meeting. The
actors all have contemporary names, but carry traditional weapons such as
shields and spears. They speak in a clever combination of traditional native
tongue and contemporary English, and all wear smart executive suits throughout.
|The cast of "The Visitors on Elizabeth Gadsby's setting.
takes place on Elizabeth Gadsby’s
impressive setting, sensitively lit by Karen Norris, which evokes a sandstone outcrop on the NSW
coast, enhanced by an unobtrusive, though increasingly menacing, soundscape
composed by Brendon Boney.
Simon) chairs the meeting which has been called to discuss how the locals
should, or should not, greet the newcomers. Gary’s control of the meeting is
frequently challenged by Gordon (Aaron Pederson) who has his own agenda, and
Jaky (Elaine Crombie) whose mob, she claims, are “lovers and fighter who love
are Albert (Beau Dean Riley Smith) who has a scientific interest in the
newcomers; Joseph (Kyle Morrison), and Wallace (Dalara Williams) who argue for
the maintenance of traditional procedures and Lawrence (Joseph Wunujaka
Althouse) a youngster the group allow to stay as a learning exercise.
As the group
argue as to whether to welcome the new arrivals or fight them off, playwright,
Harrison plays with timelines. Stories of previous interactions with French
explorers emerge, and the reason for Gordon’s intransigence, surfaces, and
although their final decision, and its repercussion are already history,
Harrison’s fascinating re-imaginings provide a riveting theatrical experience.
Images by Daniel Bouden
This review also published in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW. www.artsreview.com.au