Australian Theatre Live touts itself as “Australian story telling for the many and not the few” and is a low-cost rental site with a small selection of filmed onstage Australian productions. Just the thing while our theatres remain in lockdown.
Unfortunately, the first item on offer, Michael Gow’s Away, an Australian classic and a captivating production from Malthouse directed by Matthew Lutton Theatre, is not available. Relevant to our own times, the play deals with the difficulty of letting go, of loss and of change, the whole leavened with a little wise magic that we could do with right now.
Another Australian classic on offer is the Griffin Theatre production of Emerald City by David Williamson directed by Lee Lewis. The play written in 1987 has fun with the traditional Melbourne-Sydney rivalry, which, alas, we have seen revitalised once again as we watch the two premiers battle it out over who has the best Covid-19 strategy.
The play’s main concern, the conflict between commercial success and artistic achievement, has a poignant relevance for the obvious devaluing of art as work in the Federal’s government distribution of financial support during the present crisis. Sharp-edged direction and a splendid cast make this performance well worth watching.
Written by Geoffrey Atherden, of Mother and Son fame, Liberty Equality Fraternity produced by Ensemble Theatre and directed by Shannon Murphy could bring some hilarity into your lockdown days. A young woman is detained by an unknown authority and interrogated by an officious young man until she admits to an unidentified wrongdoing.
Disconcertingly, her interrogator has detailed knowledge about her obtained through her use of digital media. Much of the humour is drawn from the woman’s feisty responses to pointless questions and the serious themes of invasion of privacy, the ubiquity of surveillance and the crime of being a female come in a very palatable parcel.
Rachel Mary Brown’s The Dapto Chaser produced by the Apocalypse Theatre Company with Independent Griffin takes us into the world of greyhound racing.
Directed by Glynn Nicholas, the play presents a sympathetic but also unflinching perspective on a controversial subculture and people trapped by addiction, poverty and their own family history.
The fate of a loved greyhound called Boy Named Sue is a metaphor for the socio-economic dilemma that lies at the heart of this gritty play. While we might think that the characters do have other choices than the ones they make, such choices are really only theoretical to men so embedded in a self-perpetuating way of life.
Australian Theatre Live promises that two excellent productions – Katherine Thompson’s Diving for Pearls and Louis Nowra’s This Much Is True – will be available for rental in the near future. We look forward to both.