Corporate complexities

White Pearl (Queensland Theatre)

Queensland Theatre, Bille Brown Theatre

June 17 – 10 July

Anchuli Felicia King’s “White Pearl” is set in Singapore, where women from across Asia are working under bright fluorescent white lighting (Lighting Designer Damien Cooper) in the authentically-contemporary open-plan boardroom of Clearday cosmetics (Design by Jeremy Allen). Under the leadership of Indian born, but British educated, Priya Singh (Vaishnavi Suryaprakash), the high-flying team needs to hastily draft a statement in response to an emerging catastrophe after a mysterious French social media account has leaked their forthcoming television advertisement. The White Pearl product in question promises clear and bright inner beauty along with its skin whitening claims, resulting in an advertisement with not just cultural appropriation, but outright racism in its visuals as much as its troublesome messaging.

What begins with Priya rallying the group onto the same page soon turns from squabble to scramble, appropriation of blame and demand for answers. Whoever is truly at fault isn’t particularly important, as even if blame can be attributed to the advertising agency, someone is getting fired. And as the most obvious scapegoat, having signed off on the ad, Xiao Chen (Lin Yin) is feeling nervous, so much so that she spends much of the time crying on the toilet floor.

Flashback to a year earlier when timid Japanese office manager recruit Ruki Minami (Mayu Iwasaki) joins the company… a young chill and successful brand created as an alternative to Asian corporate culture. With a confident energy in sharp contrast to the cynicism of the opening scenes, Pirya outlines the company’s democratic approach befitting what she describes as a family-like team. As they discuss aspects to a proposed reframing of product branding with a uniform, universal message to transcend local culturally-specific markets, the scene serves to sharpen audience perceptions of the characters and serves as a real highlight of the skill of Thai-Australian playwright Anchuli Felicia King. So talented is the ensemble of actors in this realisation, that when duologes occur often in toilet cubicles side of stage, we spend them looking forward to scenes when the group is reunited. Indeed, the B-story of spoiled Thai-American beiress Built Suttikul’s (Nicole Milinkovic) attempts to disentangle herself from a failed relationships with Marcel Benoit (Matthew Pearce) sometimes seems almost unnecessary.

The Bille Brown stage space for this production is relatively small, but under Priscilla Jackman’s dynamic direction things happen within it at a sometimes chaotic speed, with its transitions complemented by top-of-stage screen projections moving from an advertising campaign billboard to its progression of clicks into the millions as the controversy goes viral from YouTube to Facebook to Buzzfeed, and snippets of the all-too-familiar rhetoric of social media commentary that accompanies this. The most confronting statements, however, come from those on stage through matter-of-fact discussion of what constitutes a slur and if it really is that simple, as consideration is given to reactions in the West comparative to the product’s customer base of Asian women to whom they are selling the ideal of whiteness.

The resulting discussion of Asianness and discrimination within the continent’s distinct cultures and completely different countries further layers the work’s nuanced approach to its themes. A lot of “White Pearl” it seems is to do with faces… faces desired to be shown as well as about-faces, two-faced tactics and the associated implications of appearance versus reality. Also themes of globalisation, toxic corporate culture and what professionalism means make for a very modern take on the modern world, presented by a diverse and talented cast.

Part of the script’s appeal is its clever shift of audience sensibilities though switching villains. At first we are shocked when matter-of-fact South Korean chemical consultant Soo Jin Park (Deborah An) tells things as they are to her from an anthropological perspective. Later, however, after earlier hints at her capacity for overreaction, self-proclaimed lateral thinker Priya increases the extremes of her language to rage at and mock the highly-strung and emotional Chen, before unravelling as Park deepens the crisis. There is balance not just in this transfer of the show’s provocation, but in inclusion of the comic relief that comes from Cheryl Ho as Sunny Lee, Priya’s Chinese-Singaporean offsider. Amid a stellar cast, she steals every scene with her hip-hop swagger and unfiltered Singlish sass, inhabiting her comedy not just with nuanced delivery and tension-breaking timing, but subtle physicality.

With its sometime challenging subject matter “White Pearl’s” satire will not be a work for everyone and the production comes with warning that the play contains strong language, adult themes, sexual references and discussions of race and culture in its content that may be confronting to some audience members. However, these complexities are also the things that make it such a compelling and challenging gem of production, providing another perspective of both the complications of modern life and representation of what constitutes a modern Australian play.

Photos c/o – Philip Erbacher

Gender politics and poetry

Taming of the Shrew (Queensland Theatre)

Queensland Theatre, Bille Brown Theatre

May 8 – June 5

One of the joys of experiencing a Shakespearean play on stage rather than page is hearing aloud the poetic beauty of the Bard’s language and expressions nuanced with articulations of human truth. It is initially startling, therefore that Queensland Theatre’s, “Taming of the Shrew” starts without words; in its opening scene, we are left long in their absence, with the air eventually filled instead with a ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ character whistle that links to the production’s pre-show gramophone sounds.

It’s a start that suits the story’s reappropriated setting of the silent movie era of circa 1920s. Movie billboards to the sides of the Bille Brown Theatre stage space also set the context in time, and sensibility in relation to the play’s feminist politics, in their highlight of the literally silenced star Bianca Minola. And so things begin with glamorous starlet Bianca (Claudia Ware) filming a Calamity-esque silent film, complete with humour-filled melodrama in interaction with her male co-stars, which we see played out as a jerky, black and white film projection.

Against this Italian silent film set backdrop, Shakespeare tropes are soon apparent too, with cross-dressing, confused identities, physical comedy, clowning and comic battles between the sexes featuring throughout the story of two sisters, one who wants to marry and one who doesn’t. While multiple suitors are queuing to woo Baptista’s (John McNeill) enchanting favoured film star daughter, the modest Bianca, her outspoken older sister, Katharina (Anna McGahan), cannot attract even one. Thus, the movie mogul decrees that Bianca cannot be betrothed until her difficult elder sister is wed. Cue the arrival of assured Navy Captain Petruchio (Nicholas Brown), who is unbothered by the tales of bold Katharina shrewish nature, considering it more challenge than obstacle.

The ensuring clash of wills leads to much metaphor-filled, witty banter, complete with imagery, emotion, drama and dynamic language as aviatrix Katharina asserts her strength and independence, and Petruchio’s speech and actions of masculine confidence and strength are contrasted against the romantic clichés with which Lucentio (Patrick Jhanur) woos Bianca by tricking her father.

This is a complex comedy full of complicated conversations and director Damien Ryan finds a wonderful rhythm in the language of the articulate adversaries’ relationship alongside the violent bitterness of their banter towards alliance, symbolised by a shared physical cue to each other. And with her strong will and feisty personality, this beautiful and intelligent Katharina is presented less of a problem and more a promise of great women to come.

Certainly it is always a challenge to find modern resonance from within a heritage work, let alone a problematic one such as William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”. That Queensland Theatre has altered its title to lose its ‘The’ perhaps serves as illustration that the taming of Katharina is not necessarily as fait au complet as might be anticipated. Kate’s tart tongue is presented as a technique for her survival in a society in which she does not confirm, however, it also stresses the polarity between the sisters, for while focus appears to be mostly on Katherina and her shrewish behaviour, this Bianca also shows that she is perfectly capable of asserting her only will, manipulating her suitors to encourage the intrepid and lovesick Lucentio and deceiving her father in her path to marriage.

As the more traditional couple of Bianca and Lucentio Ware and Jhanur are both earnest in portrayals of their idealistic characters. As the formidable Katharina and Petruchio, McGahan and Brown are both perfectly suited to their roles, and the shifting dynamic they create between their characters paces these parts of the production along.

Brown is a commanding stage presence in his Queensland Theatre debut, leaning into the particular challenge offered by the role of Petruchio in the context of a 2021 production. And McGahan brings the required spirit to the titular role of the shrew-ish Katharina and is particularly impressive in her impassioned final act monologue about wifely duty.

They are supported by a large cast, including many of Brisbane’s finest performers. As an ensemble they combine together for many memorable scenes, including on Petruchio’s ship (rather than his house in the country) where, after the couple’s wedding, he attacks his servants and refuses to let Katharina eat as part of his intent to tame her, and during the proceeding game play that sees a scene enacted on repeat as, on the way to Baptista’s house, the party must reset each time Kate denies Petruchio’s testing incorrect claim that the moon shines brightly. In particular, Leon Cain raises the most laughs from the audience with his extreme jester slapstick as brainless fool Biondello, Lucentio’s servant.

Adam Gardnir’s design is one of striking staging and works well with Jason Glenwright’s evocative lighting design, especially in creation of some ethereal moments against the studio backlot scenic sky cloth, akin to something from the romantic ‘You Were Meant for Me’ number in the movie musical “Singing in the Rain”. Not only does this reflect the play’s central metaphor of flight (and thus freedom). but it works well in juxtaposition with the robust timber sections of the stage that later become Peruchio’s ship.

The mobile set pieces help in creating a sense of space akin to a studio soundstage and allow fluid transformations of the space in all of its aspects, including providing different elevations and levels out into and above the audience. It is at-once busy and intimate and all very interesting, especially when it is complemented by video segment inserts that both broaden the scope of the plot and expand its opportunities for accessible visual humour.

All aspects of the production work together towards its feminist voice. In gender changes from the original text, Tania (Ellen Bailey) is a trailblazer in disguise as brother Lucentio, a shrew in the making herself, and Barbara Lowing is imposing as their mother Vincentia. Disguises and costumes of all sorts mask true identities throughout, even in the case of Bianca, who is presented as the epitome of femininity in some fabulous costume pieces. And its exploration of male dominance and control over women, is ultimately quite cleverly delivered, especially through its reconceptualisation as agency, the original text’s misogyny and pivotal final act quote from Katharina that a woman should prepare herself to do anything for her husband, including placing her hands below his foot as a token of duty.

“Taming of the Shrew” is a big play of many ideas, as its almost three hour running time attests. It is also, however, a passionate production that offers modern audiences much to consider in terms of gender politics, along with some glamour, romance, laughter… and a plane.

Photos c/o – Brett Boardman

Triple eXcellence

Triple X (Queensland Theatre)

Queensland Theatre, Bille Brown Theatre

March 6 – April 1

“Triple X” is the brand-new Australian story and world premiere that audiences have been waiting a year for, given that the co-production between Queensland Theatre and Sydney Theatre Company made it only to a second preview performance before being devastatingly shut down due to COVID-19 in 2020. And the anti-romance is most definitely been worth the wait. The funny play is an honest and moving love story that is both powerful in the way it reflects society back to us, but incredibly entertaining in its unprecedented storytelling about love in the 21st century.

Scotty (Josh McConville) is living the dream. A successful Wall Street banker, he is about to marry his beautiful and very rich girlfriend. On the eve of their wedding, his family descends of his recently purchased multi-million dollar Tribeca loft. While the philosophical differences between Scott, his just-returned-from-Nepal socially-conscious lesbian sister Claire (Contessa Treffone in a Queensland Theatre debut) and his straight-out-of-Kentucky conservative mother Deborah (the multi award winning Christen O’Leary) are clear, this conflict is just beginning. Behind the brash excess of the ‘player’ masculine veneer he bounces off his friend Jase (Elijah Williams), Scotty is really existing in internally-conflicted quiet desperation, wondering what he is doing with his life. As an audience, we come to realise this through flashbacks to his months beforehand initial interaction and then ongoing affair with charismatic trans drag performer Dexie (Glace Chase), a self-proclaimed typical stop on men’s journey to their destination sexuality.

Just as Lady Gaga synopsised, Scotty and Dexi are soon caught in a bad (but raunchy) romance, reflection on which causes Act Two to pivot in its flashbacks, including explanation of why Deborah is triggered into an out-of-nowhere rant in Act One. With his secret on his mind, Scotty must make a choice between the comfort of familiarity and the fulfilment of a future he never envisioned.

Not only is this vital work a unique story, but it is told from the unique perspective of its straight male protagonist. And McConville is excellent in the role of Scotty, giving a performance that reflects that different layers of his character as he makes sense of the attraction he and Dexi share and then navigates their resulting out-of-bounds love affair. It is playwright, Glace Chase (who is originally from Australia but left almost a decade ago for New York) however, who not only gives audiences the first Australian mainstage love story involving a transgender person, but also a phenomenal performance. Chase is magnetic as the candid Dexi, bold but vulnerable and funny, except when trying to be on stage in her club act. She is likeable and genuine and someone you want in your orbit. Indeed, she and Scotty are both presented as very real characters, complex in their multi-dimensions, sometimes unpleasant but always identifiable through their inner conflicts, which makes the show’s laid-bare moments so emotionally affecting. O’Leary, too, gifts Scotty’s mum a familiar authenticity as she expresses everything she is thinking, continuing with conversations when others have moved on and assuming an apparent ignorance-is-bliss acceptance of convenient explanations that align with her own wants.

Designer Renee Mulder has provided a stylish split level set to authentically locate the action in Scotty’s home and flashback transitions are all smooth. In fact, the whole experience is well-paced, including its insertion of Dexi’s Candyland club performance as part of transitions between present and flashback scenes. Rather than existing merely as filler, these offer an additional perspective as to the truth of her character as her adorable awkwardness of often not quite nailing it only enhances our favour.

The production is filled with carefully-curated attentions to detail, down to the level of the strangest of interval song versions, whose meanings becomes clear when we return to Dexi’s club act soon after. Its outstanding script also sees themes of toxic masculinity, societal expectations, gender politics and love intricately woven together. Indeed, multitalented and multiple award-winning playwright Chase’s clever, honest writing takes us from absolutely hilarity courtesy of O’Leary’s physical comedy of alarm to shocking and sad moments that audibly reverberate around the audience, all within the duration of only just a few scenes.

“Triple X” comes with a list of warnings; it contains blackouts and the use of herbal cigarettes, but also frequent strong language, nudity, adult themes including domestic violence and references to suicide, drug use, sexual references and sex scenes. And the production’s Intimacy and Fight Director Nigel Poulton’s hand hoovers over many sections. Under Paige Rattray’s direction, however, things never sit too long in the story’s trauma. Rather, the thematic focuses are balanced and the audience is left with a lasting message of the importance of focussing on hope, although the work does include transphobic language and acts of violence that may be triggering for some audience members.

“Triple X” may be severe in some of its themes, but it is also a dynamic and hysterically funny story, meaning that its 2 hours and 30 minutes’ duration (including a 20-minute interval) seems to fly by in what feels like the shortest of time. Its honest commentary on the complicated issues of gender and sexuality may initially appear to make it a show not for the light-hearted, however, the spring of its opening night audience to their feet in standing ovation for three curtain calls ongoing even as the house lights came on, shows how it is about so much more than this. Wickedly funny, moving and provocative, this is excellent theatre which appropriately had its opening night audience raving and which theatregoers everywhere should see.

Photos c/o – Brett Boardman

All our towns

Our Town (Queensland Theatre)

January 30 – February 20

Queensland Theatre, Bille Brown Theatre

As it is probably across all artistic disciplines, classics of the theatre can polarise audience members. The spirited debate around Thorton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1938 play “Our Town” is a testament to this and also a reminder of everything we love and have missed about live theatre. Indeed, it is easy to appreciate audience trepidation upon entry into Queensland Theatre’s Bille Brown Studio; Wilder’s metatheatrical ode to small-town American life in Grover’s Corners requires only minimal production values with the playwright calling for no curtain, no scenery, and an empty stage in half-light.

The play ignores most dramatic conventions. It is set in the actual theatre where it is being performed, but the year is, as always, May 7, 1901. The Stage Manager of the May 7, 1901 production introduces the play within-the-play which is set in the fictional community. From the darkness of its startling full blackout beginning, it is a slow start as charismatic Stage Manager narrator (an affable Jimi Bani) breaks the fourth wall to connect with and introduce the audience to the residents of the small New Hampshire Anywhere USA town of the show’s title, from the 15 other performers who have appeared on stage, where they will remain for the most of the show, even when not directly involved in the contained scope of most scenes.

Much like Australia’s own “Cloudstreet”, the story is about two families, the Gibbs and the Webbs, living next door to each other in a country town. The time capsule play as acknowledged by the playwright himself, is clearly of its era; women spend their days cooking, cleaning, washing and watching over their children as the men go off to work, while boys play sports and girls seem more studious. Yet, there are recognisable nods to the transcendence of its themes as performers enter wearing masks and characters elbow bump some of their hellos.

What follows over the show’s lengthy almost three-hour duration (including two intervals) is the creation of a still-engaging world through performances as the cast fills the space of staging with small touches that bring big laughs as characters pantomime their activities and invite us to accept the visual transformations that occur as the storyline unfolds. For example, milk crates become Bessie the horse and an egg beater is reappropriated as a lawn mower, while step ladder perches allow us to peer inside teenage bedroom windows. Experience of Act One, in particular is akin to watching a radio play unfold, with inventive sound effects adding to the cleverness of its realisation and components of Nathalie Ryner’s versatile costume design assisting in the change of scenes sans staging.

“Our Town” is certainly unusual when it comes to structure. Not only does it contain a number of flashbacks to the past and flash-forwards to the future, but it includes little action because nothing exciting ever really happens in Grover’s Corners, which is exactly its point. At times we see characters like Mrs Gibbs (Libby Munro) and Mrs Webb (Amy Lehpamer) simultaneous undertaking domestic activity alongside each other on stage in emphasis of the sameness of their every day experiences. As the production continues, it not only embraces details like this, found in the simplest, most every day occurrences, but it finds the funny in these fragments of life, which adds to its appeal.

Act One begins in 1901 and sets about conveying the beauty of everyday life. Professor Willard (Andrew Buchanan) speaks to the audience about the history of the town. The milk and paper are being delivered over trivial conversations about the weather as the Webb and Gibbs households send their children off to school. It is quiet story, patient in its simplicity and as the town settles under a bright moon, we are moved to Act Two (set three years later) and its focus on Love and Marriage, and then finally its moving third act, entitled Death and Eternity, focussing on mankind’s failure to appreciate the beauty of existence. All the while, the Stage Manager talks directly to the audience, and attempts to move the action along. After he introduces us to how Doctor Gibbs (Colin Smith) and his wife, with explanation of how they will eventually pass away, we want to know the details of other characters too, such is our level of investment in their stories thanks to Wilder’s script, Lee Lewis’ considered direction and the performances on those on stage.

The actors are uniformly fine. As the story proceeds it becomes apparent that the story of Act One neighbours and school friends George Gibbs (Jayden Popkin) and Emily Webb (Lucy Heathcote) is at its core. It is appropriate, therefore that the duo deliver the most noteworthy performances. Heathcoate is assured in the role, effectively conveying Emily’s development from conscientious and fussy daughter to smitten teenager and then reflective wife. It is an enigmatic performance; as she emerges from a flashback to Emily’s nervous awkwardness in confession of her love over an ice cream soda with George, there is little hint as to the astonishing poignancy that she will pivot her performance to in Act Three.

Popik continues to impress in a role so distinctly different to that of his Queensland Theatre debut last year in “Mouthpiece”. He not only conveys the essential decency of high school baseball star George, who plans to attend the State Agricultural School after high school, but he is fully funny, especially in his Act Two wedding morning conversation with his out-of-his-depth and out of touch soon-to-be father-in-law (Hugh Parker). His ability to find the humour in even a sideways glance conveys a talent beyond his years and the promise of his career to come, especially when he also then rises the challenge of the emotional tilt of a sombre Act Three.

The show notably also features four talented actors from Queensland Theatre’s Young Artists’ Ensemble, making their mainstage debut, and while the energy of these performers (Angus Freer, Mia Foley, Luca Klarwein and Ava Ryan) adds to the on-stage dynamic, it is ultimately anchored by its who’s who cast of more seasoned performers. In particular, Roxanne McDonald gets laughs before even opening her mouth as the town’s young paperboy Joe before later infectiously sharing her love of love as gossipy chorister Mrs Soames when the town gathers for George and Emily’s wedding.

“Our Town” may be set in America, but it not just about life in that country or of the time of its setting. Rather, it is about little moments that can become big moments of everybody’s lives, even if only with retrospect, effectively summarised in Emily’s final act ask, “Does any human being ever realise life while they live it — every, every minute?” While its slice-of-life drama depiction may not be accurate, but rather a presentation through a nostalgic lens, this brings with it a comfort that is much needed in confronting times. The fact that this production is one of the few playing in a world that usually sees hundreds of productions of the play each night, makes it even more special, beyond just its always-timely reminder to cherish life’s small moments. It seems appropriate that a show celebrating the return to theatre is one of pure storytelling and character and “Our Town” is exactly this… a beautiful celebration-of-life story about compassion, love and taking care of each other through the inevitable tragedies and triumphant joys of life in all of our towns.

Photos c/o: Pia Johnson

Top and tail treats

Rather than jinx things again with a post about the shows I am most looking forward to seeing in the year to come (at least we got Emerald City and Be More Chill), I take this time of year as an opportunity to reflect on the theatre year that mostly wasn’t. From its top and tail months, these have been my highlights of the 40 rather than usual 140(ish) shows seen:

Best dramatic performance

  • Richard Lund’s layered, contained performance as recent art school graduate Ken, assistant to abstract expressionist American painter Mark Rothko in the two-hander Red from Ad Astra.
  • Jayden Popik’s bold and powerful Queensland Theatre debut, as Declan in Mouthpiece, the company’s must-see return to the QPAC stage.

Best Staging

  • Set Designer Bill Haycock’s transformation of the Ad Astra’s small theatre space into an artist’s studio complete with an imposing set of replica canvasses, in John Logan’s Red.
  • Chloe Greaves’ detailed production design of fragmented country-house rooms jigsawed together for QUT’s early-in-March presentation of Anton Chekhov’s seminal Three Sisters.

Best Video Design

  • Nathan Sibthorpe’s stunning video projections, creating a sense of immersion into Queensland Theatre’s world premiere production of David Megarrity’s The Holidays.

Best Musical

  • Phoenix Ensemble’s dynamic September strut out of the super-fun 2012 musical Kinky Boots.

Top moment

  • When the rollicking Pirates of Penzance in Lynch & Paterson’s In Concert production sneak up on the Major-General’s house with Catlike Tread while singing at their top of their Tarantara lungs in the eponymous parodic Gilbert and Sullivan song.

Holidays hope

The Holidays (Queensland Theatre)

Queensland Theatre, Bille Brown Theatre

November 14 – December 12

With stone fruit now on sale and schools this week farewelling their Senior students, it is clear that summer holidays are but a whisper away. For many in this COVID-19 year, Christmas holidays will mean a road trip to a regional destination, which makes Queensland Theatre’s world premiere production, “The Holidays” (which was postponed due to the pandemic) now particularly timely. And as the show begins with Dad Bob Holiday (Bryan Probets), his wife Summer (Louise Brehmer) and their son Oliver (Matthew Ianna in a Queensland Theatre debut) embarking upon a hours and hours journey to the beach house of Bob’s unseen eccentric artist father, we are reminded of our own similar summer road-trip experiences, thanks to its Aussie music soundtrack of Chisel and Australian Crawl et al that serves as a through-line from even the pre-show ambiance within the Bille Brown Studio.

What the work also captures is the meander of a leisurely long summer day. Laidback pacing means that while there are hints as to the reasoning behind the trip and the notable absence of Bob’s father from the scene, we are a frustrating two thirds of the way into the 80-minute work before any specifics are revealed. On its own, this could serve as a hindrance to audience engagement, however, storytelling is supported by innovative sound and audio-visual elements that balance the lack of action on-stage once the Holidays arrive at their unspecified Queensland beachside town.  

The beach represents an escape for Oliver and all he wants to do is spend time there. When he does, he speaks directly to the audience, who are transported along with him, in a literally wave of sight and sound courtesy of an all-Queensland creative team. Nathan Sibthorpe’s stunning video projections create a sense of immersion, not only taking the audience to the beach, in work with Sean Foran and Matthew Erskine’s composition and sound design, but elevating on stage action by illuminating it on screen, showing the canvases of artworks being discovered by Oliver as he searches through the mysteries of his grandfather’s seaside shack.

As the story is told through almost-teenager Oliver’s eyes, his parents are not entirely likeable in their constant dismissal of his attempts at communication, clarification and recognition, however, in Probets’ and Brehmer’s hands the characters are given more depth than this just this reading. Probets’ restraint appropriately conveys stern Dad Bob’s complexity and burdensome struggle with becoming engulfed by grief while still fathering within his own family. And Brehmer is a bright as her character, Summer Holiday, as she attempts to support her husband and buoyant her boy.

The standout, however, is Ianna. The newcomer is incredibly talented and easily holds audience command as he breaks the fourth wall for direct address and share of this thoughts and feelings, and guides us through assistance in building his imaginative world through restrained moments of audience participation. He captures Oliver’s feelings of being lost and confused as a consequence of his parents’ attempts to protect him from their family’s reality, however, without any dialogue nod as to his exact age, it is difficult to fully appreciate his turmoil.

The 2019 Queensland Premier’s Drama Prize winner is a tender and hopeful exploration of family relationships and associated notions of connection, memory and legacy. David Megarrity’s writing skilfully take us from the frivolity and humour of dad jokes, mum dances and a pack of puns to foreshadowed poignancy associated with big and deep subject matter. Laidback disposition aside, “The Holidays” is a beautiful play in its account of relationships between a father, son and grandfather and its later scenes are particularly moving as Megarrity draws its strings together in a one-dialogue-line bow to bring tears to many eyes. Indeed, the charming, simple story of real people and their relationships ensures “The Holidays” its own legacy… for shore.  

Photos c/o – Morgan Roberts