Left – Zahra Newman. Photo – Pia Johnson
"Where're you from? Welcome to Bundanyabba – the best little town in the world!" Wake in Fright, Kenneth Cook's 1961 novel has been adapted for the stage by Declan Greene.
At once disarming to the newcomer in town, John Grant is quickly introduced to good ol' country hospitality. But very quickly this warm welcome dissolves his world where he is taken on a journey that tears open the raw, violent underbelly of what it means to be a "good bloke, a real Aussie bloke."
Wake in Fright is an extraordinary, at times unexpected and very confronting hour of theatre. It is the astounding physicality, vocal dexterity, sheer commanding stage presence of Zahra Newman that brings the people of this outback town to life.
What is an empty space of the Beckett Theatre, as the house lights go down it very quickly becomes a sweat drenched pub, a steamy two up shed, a desolate desert and ultimately the blood soaked scene of a bloody roo shoot.
Verity Hampson lighting design, using spotlights, back projections and at times nothing but total darkness that is key and indeed wholly successful in creating a violent menacing landscape. Sharing the stage, sound and music composers, friendships, brings to life a soundscape that is described by Greene "as if sound is taking in the character of The Yabba," interacting with the various characters Zahra plays.
If it is a sedate, comfortably passive evening of entertainment you are looking for, Wake in Fright is anything but. This is, at times, literally heart stopping and long after you have regained your composure you will be re examining your core notions of your own sense of what it is to be a real Australian.
Malthouse Theatre presents
Wake in Fright
by Declan Greene | adapted from the novel by Kenneth Cook
Director Declan Greene
Venue: Beckett Theatre | The Coopers Malthouse, 113 Sturt St, Southbank VIC
Dates: 21 June – 14 July 2019
Tickets: $XX – $XX
Bookings: malthousetheatre.com.au | (03) 9685 5111