From the darkness the play opened with a projected image of an ominous ‘white line fever’ scenario accompanied with sounds of static white noise. Anyone who has done road trips in this vast country could relate to such a monotonous sight. This then provided a segue into the play proper which introduced us to the main characters that were to be the only characters in this play. Set in a caravan park in a small town somewhere in Queensland, it could have been anywhere in Australia. The stage was covered with the debris of a She Oak tree with a motorhome as the main point of focus and the only prop. The story unfolded within this framework which was perfect as it did not detract from or steal the audience away from the sentiment being expressed.
Del Holloway (Carol Burns) carried the dialogue ‘solo’ for the entirety of the play, giving the sense of being a soliloquy. Playing the ‘everyone has one’ motherly character, Del took us through her life story and what it was like, day by day, living with a partner of 50 years who is seemingly suffering from a degenerative disease that has been gradually getting worse as their road trip has progressed. Meanwhile the character Stan Holloway (Bob Newman) passively and silently sits through Del’s constant diatribes of clichés and haranguing throughout the play and does so as convincingly as a person who does indeed have a degenerative illness.
The hilarity and refreshingly “un-pc’ness” of the script was written in true gonzo style which is what I found to be so endearing about the play. With smatterings of jingoisms and plenty of strine coupled with profound Shakespearean moments, this play was proudly Australian without fear or censorship. What the Director, Jean-Marc Russ, was able to do was create an affinity with the audience through the familiarity and realness that comes with a story about an ordinary Australian family and the manner that ordinary Australian families relate. Right down to the picnic table and chairs, the Tupperware, the family garden ‘statue’ and tyre crafted swan, that were additional subtleties on the stage, this play was a reminder of how wonderful and unique our collective heritage is.
‘Walking by Apple Tree Creek’ is an exceptional play in its simplicity and treatment. Both intimate and extroverted it deserves much acclaim.
A La Boite Theatre Company Commission
Walking by Apple Tree Creek
By Ian Brown
Venue: Roundhouse Theatre
Dates: 30 August - 15 September 2007 (Previews 28 & 29 August)
Times: Tue & Wed 6.30pm, Thu-Sat 8pm
Opening Night: 30 August 8pm. Matinees - Wed 29 Aug, Tue 4 & 11 Sept 11am, Sat 15 Sept 2pm. After Show Discussion - 7 September
Tickets: $22 - $55 | Group Discounts: $35 for 10+, $19 for school groups. Booking fees apply
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