Hinch Showbiz

Australia Day

A January Joust

I went to the theatre last night to see a play called Australia Day. Missed the Opening Night but the reviews have been great and word-of-mouth fantastic. It’s an MTC production at the Playhouse.

Maybe it was because I dashed there straight from work but it took me the first act to get comfortable with it. Have to admit the audience was loving it. But I always have a sneaky suspicion about Aussie audiences – and I’ll get crucified for saying this --  but we still seem to lap it up and laugh a lot at any familiar local reference.

Boy this is local. This is topical.  Every issue we’ve discussed on talkback  gets a mention with some really insightful stuff from the pen of Jonathan Biggins.

Boat people, supermarket monopolies, urban spread threatening country towns, multi-culturalism, corrupt politicians, political correctness. Next caller please.

It’s all set around the country town of Cariole, population what [?]  10-11,000 and the local Australia Day committee is planning this year’s celebrations.

The committee meeting in the local primary school is a microcosm of a small town these days. A woman from the CWA, the politically ambitious Liberal Mayor, a Greenie seeking a sea change from the big city, a redneck who means well. He’s Wally and Peter Kravitz relishes the role.

They could all easily be caricatures but a strong, and disciplined cast, doesn’t fall into that easy trap. The problem with the first act, and I won’t give it away, is that there’s a crucial but obvious plot line that spoils it a bit.  The second act has much more muscle and more for the cast to work with and there are some home truths in the end.

The award-winning Geoff Morrell plays the mayor with pre-selection ideas and does it well but the wonderful Alison Whyte,  as the flawed Greenie,  once again puts in a performance to everyone’s satisfaction.

In his robes and lace for the Australia Day presentations the mayor is the butt of some Peter Slipper jokes. Morrell, for a minute, spookily even looks like him. And the derisive laughter underscores why, in real life, Slipper the buffoon can never return to the Speaker’s Chair.

And speaking of politics. Julia Gillard should go and see this one. The biggest, loudest, most telling laugh of the night was a gag about rising electricity costs.

You tell me the Carbon Tax won’t sweep her out of The Lodge.

A program note from Biggins sends a timely message:

‘The committee is a microcosm for the greater social environment. The thing about committees is this; first, everyone is covering their backs while trying not to take responsibility for anything’. 

If only Spring Street and Canberra were listening.

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