Written and directed by Aiden Fennessy
Designed by Christina Smith
With James Bell, Julia Blake, Grant Cartwright, Michelle Fornasier, Stuart Halusz and Polly Low
Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre
5 – 20 May, 2012
|Grant Cartwright, James Bell, Stuart Halusz and Julia Blake (pic Gary Marsh)|
1975 is a great swirl in the minds of Australians who lived through it. It’s unsurprising that an obscure post-colonial fracas, albeit one close by in Portuguese Timor, wasn’t high on anyone’s agenda. Or that reports that five journalists working for Australian TV networks there were unaccounted for didn’t impinge greatly on our congested consciousnesses.
Even when their deaths, in the village of Balibo, were confirmed on November 12, it was low priority news.
In one ordinary suburban house in Melbourne, though, and for one ordinary Australian wife and mother, it was the day a world ended. The day she knew her son Tony had died.
Thirty-two years later, in Aiden Fennessy’s elegiac National Interest, that mother, June Stewart (Julia Blake) defies her own diminishing strengths and, surrounded by the shades of her 21 year old son Tony (James Bell) and his mates in the Seven Network crew who died alongside him, reaches out for peace.
For Fennessy, who also directs the play, this must have been a voyage deep into his own heart. All these people exist, or once existed, and Fennessy is June Stewart’s nephew, and Tony Stewart’s cousin. He manages this potent mix of real life and theatre with great intuition and impeccable sympathy.
National Interest is by a great margin the most significant new play Black Swan have premiered in the Heath Ledger Theatre, and the most complete, moving and satisfying production they have mounted on its stage.
Link here to the complete review in The West Australian