On Reading, Part Three

The reason why there hasn’t been one of these for a while is not that I haven’t read anything, the truth couldn’t be further from it, but the fact that nothing I’ve read has been truly stand-outish, anything particularly noteworthy. Sure, there have been enjoyable books and mediocre books, but none of them truly rated a mention here. One exception is, of course, Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia.


I waited for you: Belvoir’s Forget Me Not

I’ve long admired Tom Holloway’s work, not least the way he writes. Ever since I saw Love Me Tender at Belvoir in 2010, I’ve been struck at the muscular and yet beautiful and poetic way in which he uses words to create pictures, how he writes and uses punctuation to create characters, how the characters speak, how the dialogue sounds, how the play works, the inherent rhythms and repetitions that are built into the play itself. I love the way he fragments and fractures speech, cuts it up into bits, chucks it amongst these crazily beautiful lyrical snatches and creates these haunting word pictures which you cannot shake from your head. Yet, underneath the language is a tender and rather large beating heart which especially comes through in his latest play, Forget Me Not, a co-commission from Belvoir and Liverpool’s Everyman and Playhouse Theatres.
When Belvoir announced their 2013 season, I initially thought this would be like Oranges and Sunshine on stage. And the premise indeed sounds similar: “Gerry is almost 60, and he is going to meet his mother for the first time since he was three. His daughter Sally has had it up to here with him and his problems. The old lady lives somewhere in the UK. Liverpool, according to the records. So Gerry is going there to find out what made him who he is.” But the comparison actually does Holloway’s play a disservice, in that it hints at a bureaucracy and governments that betrayed their people. What the play does, instead, is show the personal struggle with trying to reconcile who you are with who you think you are, who you thought you were. And it’s not lightly that I make the claim of this being one of the most harrowing and yet simultaneously beautiful pieces of theatre I’ve ever seen.


VHS Productions' One Scientific Mystery or, Why did the Aborigines eat Captain Cook?

“But why did the aborigines eat Captain Cook?
It is unclear and the science is mute
The answer’s simple, that’s the way I look
They were just hungry and ate Captain Cook!”
 – Vladimir Visotsky, Why Did The Aborigines Eat Captain Cook?

Late on a midwinter night in St. Petersburg, Rhys returns to his freezing apartment to find his brother-in-law, Ben, unconscious and a naked woman about to jump out the window. The ensuing play is a little gem, by turns a comedic romance, a mystery, and something quite raw and beautiful, and it’s a play very much written from the centre of one’s soul, with its beating kicking heart on show, bared for all to see.
Playing at Darlinghurst’s TAP Gallery theatre, One Scientific Mystery, or Why did the Aborigines eat Captain Cook? is the first play from Victoria Haralabidou, and is about three people and their lives, played out over the course of a night, as they collide in an apartment; it’s about the moments we share with and glean from each other, the glimpses of someone else behind the person we see in front of us, the brutality of intimacy, and the unexpectedness of wanting to stay despite the odds.


Hiding in plain sight: Griffin Independent & Collide’s Girl in Tan Boots

TAN BOOTS: To the girl in tan boots who always gets on at St Leonards, you are my angel of the morning. My daily fix of heaven. – Man in Grey Suit.
How can someone disappear from full view, from one of the busiest train stations in the country? How do you stay visible in a big, busy city? They’re the questions that lie at the heart of Tahli Corin’s Girl in Tan Boots currently playing at Griffin Theatre as part of their Griffin Independent season. To quote the season book, “Hannah is 32, single and slightly overweight. Hannah has eczema and lives alone with a cat named Cupid. Hannah reads the love messages in the commuter magazine religiously, hoping one day, one day, there will be one just for her. But when Hannah goes missing while waiting for a mystery man at a Sydney train station, her friends and family are left to question whether their actions played a part.” 
It’s a dark play, certainly, there’s no denying it. But it’s also quite delicate and touching, quite beautiful and funny at the same time. There’s a loneliness that sits at its heart that seems to bleed through, into the characters’ lives, into the staging, into the set, even the performances at times, and it’s quite powerful and affecting stuff.