Written by Helen Machalias
Directed by Beng Oh
A Street Theatre
The Street Theatre to
Reviewed by Len Power 11
Following a storm resulting in a disastrous shipwreck in
which many die, some surviving Iranian refugees are washed ashore on Christmas
Island and the long process of seeking asylum in Australia begins.
Those refugees, Prospero, Miranda and Ariel, in “This Rough Magic”, also happen to be the main characters in Shakespeare’s play, “The Tempest”. On the island they encounter Caliban, a Chinese Malay young man with a machete, now a guard at the detention centre.
“The Tempest” is a play that has long been the subject of various interpretations and debates about its meaning and “This Rough Magic” is a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s play to discuss Australia’s refugee asylum question.
Given a major staging with an atmospheric set design by Imogen Keen, a complex lighting design by Gerry Corcoran and a dramatic sound design by Kyle Sheedy, the play is presented as a series of scenes where reality, rhetoric and fantasy collide to tell the story of the cost of pursuing the promise of a better life.
Swinging between incidents on the island, political speeches from Australia and elements of Shakespeare’s work, it’s hard to get a handle on the play’s true intentions or feel much empathy for the characters. It feels like the link to “The Tempest” actually constrains the play.
Director, Beng Oh, keeps the show moving at a fast pace, but has not resolved issues with many of the short scenes that remain obscure in their nature.
From left: Andre Le, George Kanaan, Kaitlin Nihill and Reza Momenzada
Photos by Novel Photographic
Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at https://justpowerwriting.blogspot.com/.