Friday, May 29, 2015

Theatre: Under This Sun (★★★★½)

Directed by Warwick Doddrell
Featuring Maja Liwszyc, Tristan McInnes and Peter Lane Townsend
Until June 6

In Under This Sun, the writer and director Warwick Doddrell and his collaborators Maja Liwszyc, Tristan McInnes and Peter Lane Townsend have devised a story with a persuasive narrative arc, created three memorable characters to people it, and given them a fine, very often poetic, text to express themselves with.
In doing so, they’ve completely overcome any concern that its familiar subject matter is overworked or opportunistic. And if you thought you couldn’t listen to Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson being recited on stage without cringing, you’ve got another think coming.
Grace (Liwszyc), Jeremy (McInnes) and Cooper (Townsend) are out in the desert east of Wiluna, each for a different reason. Jeremy, naively inspired by Jack Kerouac’s peregrinations, is walking to an ancient formation in the bleak landscape called God’s Thumb – and tweeting daily about his ill-conceived adventure; Grace, the bartender at the local pub, has gone bush in search of her unstable brother Darren, while Cooper has been maliciously abandoned by his father and sister on a camping trip in the scrub.
Their journeys intersect amid tragedy and revelation, the inexorable country taking its toll of bodies and minds; they are modern-day Burkes and Willses, pinned under the bright, unforgiving desert stars.
Doddrell’s stagecraft is impeccable throughout; his ability to manage three characters apart in life but together on stage a particular accomplishment. The technical achievements of designer Tessa Darcey, lighting designer Emily Crane and sound designer Mike Podmore are inventive and striking, and Garth Stevenson’s music is a highlight.
Liwszyc, McInnes and Townsend are all capable of shining in far lesser productions (I recently saw Liwszyc give a terrific performance in a production that was otherwise so dire I fled at interval). With material and support this strong they couldn’t fail but deliver, and they do so in spades.
I was affected and impressed by Under This Sun as I watched it, and am even more so now having read the script and thought further on it. It’s by some margin the most exciting new work on the Perth stage so far this year.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

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