The vision splendid of Peter Carey’s novel BLISS is splendidly envisioned on stage by Tom Wright’s reverent and inventive adaptation.
The novel BLISS won the Miles Franklin Award. The film won AFI awards for Best Film, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. It would be of no surprise that this adaptation, and, indeed, this production, also win awards.
Until then, it will harvest the plaudits of audiences as a rollicking, pin-pricking entertainment.
Tom Wright’s stage adaptation feels like the book, quite successfully plumbing the nuances and layers of meaning, the manic energy of the narrative infusing kinetically with the robust, ribald and rambunctious energy of the performers. It has the ongoing effect of energising the audience, ensuring Never a Dull Moment in almost three hours of theatre. Continue reading BLISS : PURE THEATRICAL BLISS→
What a great story for a leading Australian theatre company like the Queensland Theatre Company (QTC) to tell at this time! And what timing! Whilst the show was still playing, on Australia’s Day, Koori AFL star Adam Goodes was announced ‘Australian Of The Year’.
BLACK DIGGERS tell of how, at a time when Kooris in this country were treated as less than second class citizen without voting rights, more than 1,000 indigenous soldiers fought side by side alongside their white countrymen in the battlefields of the Great War- in Palestine, the Somme, Gallipoli and Flanders Fields. Some became highly decorated soldiers…
It was another chapter in Australia’s- ‘White Australia has a very black history’- that the treatment that Koori returned servicemen received was no different from what they were used to before they left for the War.
With such a tough story, it would have been very easy for the playwright Tom Wright and the director Wesley Enoch to come up with a depressing, even spiteful production. Not so….Instead they have come up with a vibrant production.
The show went for 100 minutes without break, allowing the actors to maintain their momentum. We closely followed the individual journeys of the soldiers.
There were some sixty scenes- some stand-outs…The scene where two Kooris walk into a pub. The publican blocks their entrance. ‘We don’t have Kooris here’. From inside the pub a guy they fought alongside in the war spots them. He comes up to them and says to the publican- ‘You let these guys in- they fought with me in the war- or I will have words to the RSL about you’. His two mates are let in.
The play’s setting authentically changes from pre-war Australia to the horrors of the trenches to a cold, ineffectual post war country, giving us ‘the whole picture’. There was humour amongst the men with them just trying to stay on top of things.
A feature of Stephen Curtis’s set design was the chalkboard walls. Through the play the cast would inscribe telling details on these walls- signifying time periods, locations and much more.
The cast were great, delivering strong performances. The team comprised George Bostock, Luke Carroll, David Page, Hunter Page-Lochard, Guy Simon, Colin Smith, Eliah Watego, Tibian Wyles and Meyne Wyatt.
This was a show that absolutely called for something special and powerful. Wesley Enoch and his team delivered.
A Sydney Festival and Queensland Theatre Company World Premiere production, BLACK DIGGERS played the Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House from the 17th to the 26th January, 2014.
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