Cross-cultural comedy-drama

Good Muslim Boy (Queensland Theatre and Malthouse Theatre)

QPAC, Cremorne Theatre

July 12 – August 4

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Amongst the vibrancy of contemporary Australian theatrical works, “Good Muslim Boy” stands tall as one of merit. The Queensland Theatre and Malthouse Theatre stage adaptation of the 2015 prize-winning memoir (and 2016 New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards winner) of the same name by Iraqi-Australian actor, comedian and writer Osamah Sami is not set in Australia, however, but rather a wintery Iran where Osamah’s father has taken him on pilgrimage. The trip is Osamah’s father’s attempt to recharge and reconnect his son with his roots, in response to his failing arranged marriage and hedonistic Western lifestyle as judged by the suburban mosque community at which his father is imam.

The holy land holds little appeal for Osamah who, despite being born in Iran, speaks Arabic, but not fluent Persian. So while his cleric father is moved at The Imam Reza holy shrine in Mashad, Osamah is more interested in taking selfies and trying to catch up on sporting scores from back home in Australia. When tragedy strikes during the trip, there’s no time for emotion as Osamah attempts to work around the bureaucratic nightmare of pilgrim season Iran to return home to Australia without overstaying his visa.

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The life-changing and life-defining story is recounted by performer, cowriter and co-creator Osamah Sami himself, on stage, (along with Rodney Afif and Nicole Nabout, in a multitude of character roles). And what an extraordinary and absolutely absorbing story it is. Its 85-minute duration is one of sustained tension that remains wisely unbroken by an intermission, but is effectively juxtaposed by humour, frequently through the range of often comic characters identifiable to anyone who has travelled in the chaotic Middle East.

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The three-handed comedy-drama is realised in its energetic and compelling performances. As a young man torn between his obligation to be a good Muslim boy and his passion for the arts and the escape of storytelling evoked by his father’s tales, Sami makes audiences feel (rather than just feel for) his frustration as he is transformed into a stronger man. Aend his presence on stage leading us through his journey both creates a direct connection of shared moments and makes the show all that more special.

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Naout and Afif are clearly versatile performers in their swift switches in and out of countless both male and female characters (some who not even have any dialogue) that come into Osamaha’s story, presenting sharp delineation between characters, occasionally assisted by minimal, simple props. Although Nabout shows enormous range in shift, for example, from Osamaha’s eight-year-old daughter in Australia to a slow-moving octogenarian in Iran, Afif is particularly memorable as Osamah’s principled father. His measured performance makes his mix of dad jokes and wise words of regard for others most endearing, especially in his awareness and attempted support of his wayward son.

The solitary set belies its inventive staging as a perspex bus/tram stop shelter of moveable parts is changed at lightning speed into all sorts of locations. This not only allows the episodic story to pace along through its many short scenes, but it shows how the performer’s characterisation is primarily what drives the narrative. Ben Hughes’ lighting helps audiences along the emotional journey, warming into focus flashbacks in reminder of earlier situations, such as when Osamah’s father recalls life as an Iraqi living in Iran during the armed conflict between the two nations. Lighting also works well with Phil Slade’s composition and sound design to develop location and atmosphere such as in creation of a beautiful moment when Osamah awakes to a sunrise call to morning prayer.

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“Good Muslim Boy” is a big story full of small moments around its themes of family and relationship with faith. Indeed, there is a touching humanity to its minor moments, including share of an incident and explanation of how charity can destroy a poorer man’s pride. The autobiographical piece maintains the great heart that is the essence of the memoir that is itself dedicated to Osamah’s ‘father, confidant, friend and absolute hero’.

This is a little play that leaves a big impact, at once gripping and fascinating in its ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ reality. Crafted by Janice Muller’s direction, the heavy subject matter is handled well and enhanced by a skilful comic touch of also light and lively scenes to sit alongside heavier ones in tell of a refugee experience, making for a dramatic and touching theatre event that will not only rivet for its duration but resonate long afterwards in memory of its insight into universal themes beyond the specifics of faith.

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Grand final theatre

The Longest Minute (Queensland Theatre with debase productions and JUTE Theatre Company)

QPAC, Cremorne Theatre

May 26 – June 23

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Given their shared drama, theatre and sport are not that different. Yet rarely do the rituals combine. And even more infrequently do they fuse together to produce a work as significant as “The Longest Minute”, Queensland Theatre’s co-production with debase productions and Cairns’ JUTE Theatre Company, which centres around the final golden-point minute of the conclusive and premiership-deciding 2015 all-Queensland NRL Grand Final.

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After years of defeat, the seemingly impossible occurs when the North Queensland Cowboys claim their first premiership title in their twentieth year of the competition. This is Townsville, where life runs at a different pace and rugby league is a religion that, in mixed-metaphor, is heralded by King of the North, Johnathan Thurston. Our protagonist Jessica Wright (Chenoa Deemal) is a footy fanatic who wants to be a fullback like Hopevale legend Matty Bowen and play football (not netball or touch football) for the Cowboys and Queensland. It’s all her parents fault; not only are white mum Margaret (Louise Brehmer) and Aboriginal father Frank (Mark Sheppard), unwavering fans, but she was born on the night of the NQ Cowboy’s first Winfield Cup game at the then Stockland Stadium in 1995.

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Football is in Jess’ blood; her father is the locally-famous former Foley Shield player Frank ‘The Black Flash’ Wright and her introverted brother Laurie (Jeremy Ambrum) is a talented Academy player, despite having a deep-seeded disinterest in playing professionally. And so Jess dreams of playing in the Jillaroos Australia women’s national rugby league team, even though the rules are that she can only play locally in the mixed team until she turns 13. And so “The Longest Minute” is the simultaneous story of (as its tagline proclaims) one football club, one family and one unforgettable NRL grand final. As such, it is a uniquely Queensland tale but also ultimately a wider one, with automatic appeal to not only sunshine-staters but all regional Australians who perhaps rarely see themselves accurately represented on stages.

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Opening night sees a real sense of comradery, community even amongst the audience (many of whom are wearing Cowboys or Broncos supporter gear) as ‘Eagle Rock’ soundtracks a volunteer’s footy skills on a single-set stage that has been transformed into a grassy league field, with scoreboard to signpost the passing of years and the location of scenes.

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The striking lighting (Lighting Designer Jason Glenwright) and soundscape (sound design/composition by Kim Busty Beatz Bowers) is used effectively throughout, such as in establishing the thrill of being on the hill in perfect spot to watch your team lose (design by Simona Cosentini and Simone Tesoreri). And when a ‘Queenslander’ chant commences before the siren signal of ‘game on’ for the start of the show proper, the palpable spirit and engery is unlike anything usually experienced in a theatre setting. Then the narrative begins with audio recording of that final minute, almost too tense to watch, which saw the Cowboys turn around 21 years of being a joke’s punchline.

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Even though the match in question is regarded as one of the greatest grand finals in rugby league history, it is the off-field drama that occupies the story’s attention. And like sport, the show is full of good times (and abundant hilarity) along with tension, and there is an uncertainty around the direction it takes to its ultimate outcome. Indeed, the craftedness of Rovert Kronk and Nadine McDonald-Dowd’s script is such that it takes audiences from riotous laughter in one moment to the shared silence of absolute shock in the next. These are real and complex characters for whom sorry is said through a stoic attitude as much as actual words of apology. As a North Queenlander, it made me feel so many things over its twists and turns… proud, sad and nostalgic for Phelan’s pies and follow of the quality players to come out of the Foley shield North Queensland league competition.

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In its touches on sexism in sport, racism, disparate small town (despite being a city) life and cultural identity, the show offers many moments of light and shade thanks to Bridget Boyle’s considered direction and the affecting performances of all cast members in roller-coasting the audience through the agony and ecstasy of its story. Deemal is fantastic as the feisty Jess, showing equal parts warmth and passion as she journeys from school girl to determined adolescent. Sheppard is especially wonderful in early scenes where he is full of ‘Black Flash’ bravado and as his down-to-earth wife Margaret, Brehmer is initially hilarious and later emboldened as a mother trying to ease family tensions and the aftermath of tragedy.

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A largely underused Ambrum brings physical comedy to his initial scenes as a toddler, but this is ultimately not where he leaves his mark. Lafe Charlton is stoical as a laconic Uncle Gordon from Cloncurry and, along with David Terry, he pops into the action with some hilarious moments as a variety of characters in the ensemble.

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Like any epic league match, the show’s emotional roller coaster is over in an hour and a half, but it is 90 minutes during which so much happens. In offering a perspective on the world in which we live beyond just a sense of humour, it also holds a mirror to our society whose image we might not necessarily find comforting. Like Rugby League itself, however, “The Longest Minute” will not only break your heart, but fill it with soul (and side-splitting laughs). Most importantly though, it tells one of our stories and widens theatre’s cultural landscape, making it accessible to audiences beyond just traditional theatre fans to those sports-lovers who think theatre is not for them, and for that it must be applauded.

Oh what a riotous night

Twelfth Night (Queensland Theatre)

QPAC, The Playhouse

April 28 – May 19

“Twelfth Night” opens with one of Shakespeare’s most resonate quotes; ‘if music be the food of love play on’ Duke Orsino of Illyria commands. It is a festive sentiment so apt that it is appears more than once in what is Shakespeare’s most musical play. It is appropriate then for tunes be added to the Bard’s lyrics by music legend Tim Finn, as is the case with Queensland Theatre’s realisation of the Shakespearean comedy.

The melancholic nature of Shakespeare suits Finn’s style and with Sam Strong’s direction songs are seamlessly integrated, making it difficult to recall that numbers like ‘Falling in Love’ and ‘Autumn Comedy’ have not always bookended intermission. Although there is affection for music evident throughout, the numbers are not as memorable as those of Finn’s soundtrack to then QTC’s brilliant “Ladies in Black”. Even so, they still add another (mostly delicate) layer to the play, like the fairy lights that twinkle atop the intricate revolving stage centrepiece. Detailed staging also enhances the production in many ways. The revolving stage not only creates nooks and crannies of interest in which its multi-story action takes place, but it allows central showcase of the excellent band of musicians that bring Finn’s compositions to life.

Washed ashore on Illyria and separated from her presumed-dead twin brother Sebastian (Kevin Spink), the gutsy Viola (Jessica Tovey) must learn to survive alone in an exotic foreign country. This means disguising herself as a man and so, as Cesario, she gets a job with Duke Orsino (Jason Klarwein) who has decided he is love with Countess Olivia (Liz Buchanan). Unfortunately, Olivia is more interested in mourning recent family deaths than responding to suitors, so Orsino sends Cesario to mediate. The problem is that the Viola he knows as Cesario has fallen in love with the Duke. And all the while there is an ensemble entourage watching on in amusement, providing much of the play’s humour in their drinking, joking, singing and torment.

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“Twelfth Night” is a story about the thrill of falling in love, but also of growing old and showing mortality. Indeed, there is some darkness in its focus of characters left behind and mistreated, through concentration in this realisation appears to be more on laughs and silliness. One of the maligned characters is Oliva’s vain and pompous steward, Malvolio, or in this case, a more comic than tragic, Malvolia, in cross-gendered play by the acclaimed Christen O’Leary. When several characters concoct a plan to make Malvolia believe Olivia returns her love, O’Leary is hilarious as she struts about with strange plastered smile (mistakenly believing that this is Olivia’s desire) and then even better in an Act Two reveal of her cross-gartered yellow stockings in ‘Lady Ho Ho’, the show’s musical and comic highlight.

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The play showcases much humour of the Shakespeare sort; “Twelfth Night” was the last true comedy that the bard wrote so it represents a refinement of the cross-dressing et al comic conventions that that personify his more light-hearted fare. There is mistaken identity, cross dressing caused awkwardness when Viola (as Cesario) is instructed to bathe Orsino, baudy jokes courtesy of the always-excellent Bryan Probets as Sir Toby Belch and eavesdropping whilst remaining hidden like in “Much Ado About Nothing”.

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A clear energy all around makes for a show of much colour and movement. Jessica Tovey is a spirited but sincere Viola and Liz Buchanan infuses the wealthy countess Olivia’s mourning with lightness.  Perhaps the biggest standout, however, is Sandro Colarelli as Feste, Olivia’s jester servant. Although he is labelled as a fool in which Lady Olivia’s father took much delight, he is as much melancholy as comic as he uses his wisdom to awaken others. And vocally, he makes his musical numbers into sublime aural experiences.

The melan-comedy world of “Twelfth Night” has always been a merry, mixed-up realm of sex, love and gender games. It is a funny and melancholy place, but a complicated one thanks to its multi-storylines, which makes for a lengthy show duration. Still Queensland Theatre audience members do not seem to mind, rather having a ball with its musical interludes and riotous, farcical disorder.

Fabulous family feuding

Black is the New White (Queensland Theatre presents a Sydney Theatre Company production)

QPAC, The Playhouse

February 1 – 17

“Black is the New White” has been billed as being a new blend of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” which is a perhaps clichéd but totally correct descriptor of Nakkiah Lui’s fabulous new play about the discomfort of contemporary Australian life.

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A joyous whirlwind romance sees successful Aboriginal lawyer Charlotte (Shari Sebbens) returning to a family Christmas at her parent’s lavish open-plan holiday home to introduce her new and very awkward experimental classical musician fiancé Francis. As the daughter of Ray Gibson, the self-proclaimed Martin Luther King of the Australian political landscape, Charlotte’s choice of partner couldn’t be worse. Forget that she is black and he is white; he is the son of Ray’s long-time, ultra-conservative rival Denison (Geoff Morrell).

Along with Dension and his wife Marie (Vanessa Downing), joining Ray and wife Joan (Melodie Reynolds-Diarra) for the festivities are Charlotte’s sister Rosie (Miranda Tapsell), returning from her successful fashion business in Los Angelas with her retired Wallaby captain husband Sonny (Anthony Taufa). Cue also charming nameless narrator/Christmas Ghost (an underused Luke Carroll) and the assembly is set to become an absolutely hilarious holiday from hell.

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Act One begins with the comedy of embarrassment. With Francis fumbling through repeated foot-in-mouth politically-incorrect comments, and his failed attempts at jokes about the Stolen Generation et al often see audience members with hand-to-mouth in shared aghast reaction.  The action proper centres on a bigger series of conflicts, so engaging that intermission comes as an inconvenience to a thoroughly-absorbed and wanting-more audience. And when secrets spill out as characters’ journeys of identity are revealed in its final act, they are unsurprisingly surprising.

There is a serious side too as some big ideas are played out through the complex dynamics within the everyday scenario of family squabbles heightened by the festive season. Uncomfortable questions around class, social dynamic, cultural identity and male-privilege add complexity and intellectual rigour to its food flinging, secret-spilling comedy, making for a razor-sharp modern examination of whether race is a value like other social constructs.

Writing is clever and pacy, and Paige Rattray’s nimble direction allows for later tonal shifts to sneak up upon the audience. Indeed, it is superbly directed to exploit its frenetic pace. And while everyone on stage gives an excellent performance, it the ladies’ late-in-show monologues that stand out, prompting moments of spontaneous mid-show applause. Reynolds-Diarra gives a multi-layered performance as the down-to-earth, heart-of-her-family Joan and Downing is hilarious when she breaks free of her white passive aggression.

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“Back is the New White” is a very clever, original show, which appropriately left its opening night audience raving about it being the funniest in recent memory. Its edgy, energetic and quick-witted approach to a classic family comedy is modern and highly entertaining, and it is easy to appreciate its sold out world premiere season at Sydney Theatre Company last year. With confetti, male nudity, a figurative and literal lettuce war, a dance-off between political rivals and Peter Andre’s ‘Mysterious Girl’ anthem, it is certain to leave lasting memory of its joyfulness, but also hopefully its thematic heart about race, class and community changes.

Considerations of quality

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A couple of months away travelling and a couple more laid up with pneumonia and I saw fewer shows in 2017 than in recent years (but still well into the double digits). Reflecting, it is clear that quality over quantity can be incredibly rewarding. And what quality there was on offer… so much so that my usual top five favourite, has been blown out to the following ten:

  1. Torch Songs (Mama Alto, Brisbane Powerhouse, Wonderland Festival)
  2. Lady Beatle (the little red company, La Boite Theatre Company)
  3. My Name is Jimi (Queensland Theatre)
  4. Once in Royal David’s City (Queensland Theatre)
  5. The Play that Goes Wrong (Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, QPAC)
  6. Chef (Persona Inc & Atobiz Ltd, Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane Festival)
  7. Nigel Kennedy: Vivaldi The New Four Seasons + Dedications (Nigel Kennedy, QPAC)
  8. Kinky Boots (Michael Cassel in association with Cameron Mackintosh, QPAC)
  9. Spectate (Counterpilot, Metro Arts)
  10. Humans (Circa, QPAC)

And honourable mention to the UK’s National Theatre Stage to Screen show Yerma… Gut-wrenching, phenomenal theatre thanks to Billie Piper’s devastatingly powerful performance.

And mention also to the following highlights:

  • Best performance:
    • Elaine Crombie as a hilarious house-slave in Queensland Theatre Company’s An Octoroon.
    • Merlynn Tong in her intimate and vulnerable one-woman work, Playlab’s Blue Bones
    • Cameron Hurry as badly behaved brother Valene in the darkly irreverent The Lonesome West by Troop Productions
  • Best AV – Spectate (Counterpilot, Metro Arts)
  • Most thought provoking –- Octoroon (Queensland Theatre, Brisbane Festival)
  • Best new work – Merlyn Tong’s Blue Bones (Playlab, Brisbane Powerhouse)
  • Best Reimagining – Signifying Nothing (Macbeth) (Hammond Fleet Productions, Brisbane Festival)
  • Best musical – Kinky Boots (Michael Cassel in association with Cameron Mackintosh, QPAC)
  • Best cabaret:
    • Torch Songs (Mama Alto, Brisbane Powerhouse, Wonderland Festival)
    • Lady Beatle (The Little Red Company, La Boite Theatre Company)
    • Song Lines (Michael Tuahine, Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane Cabaret Festival)
    • Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs (Alan Cumming, Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane Cabaret Festival)
  • Best music – Nigel Kennedy: Vivaldi The New Four Seasons + Dedications (QPAC)
  • Best opera – Mark Vincent Sings Mario Lanza and the Classics (Lunchbox Productions, QPAC)
  • Funniest – The Play That Goes Wrong (Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, QPAC)
  • Most fun – Let Them Eat Cake (Act/React, Anywhere Festival)
  • Most madcap – Chef (Persona Inc & Atobiz Ltd, Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane Festival)
  • Most immersive – Trainspotting Live (In Your Face Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse)
  • Most moving – Once in Royal David’s City (Queensland Theatre)

2018 looks set to continue to showcase both the wonderful work of this state’s creatives and innovative works from both here and further afield. Festivals will continue to punctuate the cultural calendar, serving to oscillate audiences between feast and famine like a cultural bulimic… although with Brisbane Powerhouse’s Melt Festival moving to May (maybe at the same time as Anywhere Festival) it may be a shower than usual start to the year.

Behind the scenes satisfaction

Scenes from a Marriage (Queensland Theatre)

QPAC, The Playhouse

November 11 – December 3

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Marianne (Marta Dusseldorp) and Johan (Ben Winspear) are cosy in the comfort of their overly-scheduled, boring bourgeois lives … well that’s what they tell a magazine interviewer when being asked about their union. But what lies behind their façade and how long will it be before their imperfect love begins to dissolve? These are the initial questions at the core of “Scenes from a Marriage”, and the answers, as they unravel, are far from comforting.

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Originally a 1970s Swedish television series by accomplished and influential filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, “Scenes from a Marriage” is a beast of a play. The stage adaptation by Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith takes audiences behind the scenes into the intimacy of a marriage as it tries to survive secrets and suffering in the shadow of a single event and over-time, innate animosity. With a focus on domestic relationships, it has all the emotional and cognitive ingredients for audience engagement. Yet despite being a polished and visually stunning production with a first-rate cast, its resonance is more satisfaction in a neutrally-beige type way, than standout amongst a sensational season of shows.

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Even to those unfamiliar with the nuance of its Swedish creator, the production is noticeably Bergman. Staging screams Scandinavian in its simplicity, functionality and minimalism, opening as it does to a clinically white and sparely-furnished room. Even when, late in Act One, things open up to the reveal the reality of the couple’s conjoined life in a scene in the their holiday home, it is one of timbre tones affront a tree-lined lake backdrop. The aesthetics are quite stunning, enhanced by lighting that adds a theatricality to the sometimes shocking action on-stage.

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The authentic anatomy of a marital breakdown also comes courtesy of well-crafted dialogue that takes audience members from the light relief of predictable jokes through the devastating dynamics of divorce (and what comes next) and contemplation of if whether dislike is better than indifference.

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Real-life husband and wife Ben Winspear and Marta Dusseldorp are excellent in their respective roles, presenting the couple as two individual and complexly layered individuals. Their chemistry is clear… unsettlingly so in a physical fight sequence in one of the play’s uncomfortable scenes. Winspear’s glib Johan, shallowly self-assured and overconfidently narcissistic, allows Dusseldorp’s intense and ultimately vulnerable performance to take centre stage. And they are both well-supported by superb performances from Hugh Parker and Christen O’Leary as the couple’s mutually, mercilessly bitter, married friends.

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For most of the story, Marianne and Johan are unlikeable people curiously drawn to the mutual misery of their marriage, yet there are also sometimes glimpses of them as ordinary, suffering humans who love each other in their own way…. necessary for audience empathy and investment in their story. Like so often in life, there is no happy ending to “Scenes from a Marriage”, but its experience brings a satisfaction of sorts from the confrontation of its truth.

Photos c/o – Rob Maccoll

Octoroon originality

An Octoroon (Queensland Theatre and Brisbane Festival)

The Greenhouse, Bille Brown Studio

September 15 – October 8

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An octoroon is a person who has one-eighth black heritage. This now-politically-incorrect titular understanding is at the centre of Queensland Theatre’s “An Octoroon” we are told in a meta-theatre pre-emptive explanation of the Act Four function in melodrama. The clarification is not necessary, but appreciated given all that is going in American writer Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ confronting, challenging and compelling re-imagining of a 19th century slavery melodrama by Irish writer Dion Boucicault.

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The Peyton family’s Louisiana plantation seems destined to fall into the unscrupulous hands of its former overseer, M’Closky (Colin Smith). George Peyton (also Colin Smith) is a decent man who scandalously falls for Zoe (Shari Sebbens), the well-educated, illegitimate and octoroon daughter of the deceased owner. And so, he must choose between his love for Zoe and his need to save the estate by marrying the entitled rich heiress Dora (Sarah Ogden).

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It begins, however, with the meta-theatrical framing device of playwright character, BJJ (Colin Smith) sharing his frustrations with being a ‘black playwright’ before a confrontation with the original text’s playwright (Anthony Standish). With his white actors having quit the play, BJJ proceeds to don white face paint and perform their roles himself, which happens to lead to one of many hilarious scenes as he switches between the heroic George and the antagonist M’Closky in a physical altercation.

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In the hands of leading aboriginal artist Nakkiah Lui, in her directorial debut, this Australian exclusive production, has been subtly re-contextualised through our own lens. Its rich and resplendent tapestry of themes is realised in a lively work of much colour and movement. So much is going on in stylised chaos as music pumps, characters interact playfully and black actors wear whiteface and white actors wear blackface.

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Much of the laugher generated is of the uneasy sort and staging, with a long white traverse space with the audience seated on both sides, affords opportunity to see how others are also reacting both in its riotous moments and when serious consideration sharply contrasts earlier scenes. When the audience watches in absolute silence during these later-show moments, it is not with indifference but with acute understanding and acknowledgement of the impact of its message.

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Certainly, the indigenous re-contextualisation of the African American story to themes from Australia’s colonial history, works, without detracting from the spirit of the original. Risky themes and complicated questions are translated with effective use of visual language to create a completely original and engaging theatrical experience that is through-provoking and challenging in its layered exploration of who we are and who we are becoming.

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Although it is Smith, Standish and Antony Taufa who perform multiple roles in the show, it the ladies of the cast who leave the most lasting impression. Sebbens makes for a humorous heroine, Zoe and Ogden appears to be having great fun within her role as the heiress Dora; she is every bit a stereotypical Southern Belle desperate for George’s attention, complete with an over-the-top accent.

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Chenoa Deemal makes the most of her role as field-slave Grace, shunned by those of higher, house, station, while closely bonded house-slaves Minnie (Elaine Crombie) and Dido (Melodie Reynolds-Diarra) provide the most laughs in their sassy banter about slave life, the chemistry between the pair filling the theatre in their every easy interaction. Indeed, as the brash, tell-it-as-it-is Minnie, Crombie is absolutely superb in her comic timing and the very best thing about the show.

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“An Octoroon” is an original and gripping provocation that gives audiences much to take away from its energetic, fearless approach to interrogating race and identity and the extent to which stereotypes are still embedded in today’s consciousness. It is not only a deconstruction of racial representation, but a gripping production (despite its two hour duration), to be enjoyed and appreciated in equal measure. … bold, inventive and probably unlike anything you will have ever seen on stage before.