On a cold mid-winter night in Gwynneville, an inner suburb of Wollongong, a major regional city of NSW, an uplifting and theatrically hot event occurred – the premiere of an Australian musical ANVIL written by South Coast creative arts teacher Stephen Goldrick.
The premiere benefited from a long gestation of its 20 something songs by its writer, through folk festivals and concerts, starting with some kind of artistic epiphany in the Abercrombie Caves, where the bushranger Ralph Entwhistle and his “ribbon” band of followers from Bathurst held out against a formidable arrange of colonial military and police force. The show honours the fate and values of innumerable small players in Australia’s early white history, individuals faced with invidious decisions under the iron grip of British imperial power.
The show is a surprisingly rich tapestry of music styles, including classical and modern folk, love ballads (“Seven Secrets”) blues (“Not Repeatedly Yours”) a rock gallows number (“Gates of Time”), opening and closing (“Beat the Drums”) anthems, Gilbert and Sullivan ditties, choric chant, improvisations and underscoring. The actual text of the final sentence of the bushrangers is accompanied by baroque harpiscope composition. All the music is a pleasure to hear.
A larrikin playfulness of acting style, that finally assumes a Brechtian non naturalist stance, allows the diversity of music and stagecraft. Some moments – such a hands fluttering from offstage as a comedy riff – are risky, but it all hangs in a light coherence, that treads deftly through a panoply of emotions and action – ranging from sentimental, romantic, authoritarian, comedic, and melodramatic. Continue reading ANVIL : AN EXCITING NEW AUSTRALIAN MUSICAL