Left – Maitland Schnaars and Meyne Wyatt. Photo – Brett Boardman
From its shockingly hilarious beginning to its shockingly powerful brick through a plate glass window ending, City of Gold is pure theatrical gold.
Writer Meyne Wyatt’s play burns with the fuel of fury, an unfurling ferocity forged from dealing with constant and consistent racism, what he calls “the biggest stain that afflicts this country to this day.” Writing from a place of experience, Wyatt grapples with grief for the loss of his Dad, about his work in the entertainment industry, and about the place he calls the ‘City of Gold’, Kalgoorlie, what his father called “the most racist town in Australia!’.
Wyatt plays the central character, Breythe, who opens the show in “traditional” garb, playing a character in a BBQ Lamb commercial to “celebrate” Australia Day. The stereotypical scenario and the manner and ignorance of the film’s director is appalling and galling, totally deserving of the rapier ridicule and contempt the writing affords it.
Returning home to Kalgoorlie on the death of his father, he is reunited with his brother Mateo (Mathew Cooper), sister Carina (Shari Sebbens), and hearing impaired old mate, Cliffhanger (Jeremy Ambrum). Through dreams, he is also reacquainted with his father (Maitland Schnaars), as guilt and grief add to the bonfire of family conflict and race relations. Anthony Standish and Christopher Stollery as a couple of stupid white men in various guises, risible in their callow cultural insensitivity, despicable and deadly in their more malevolent manifestations.
There’s palpable passion in this play and reason for the rage. Its raison d’etre is to confront the role of reason in the battle with the unreasonable. Wyatt’s script is effervescent with humour but does not sugar coat the hideous. City of Gold’s second act begins with a rant, laced with angry eloquence, plugged into the main circuit Zeitgeist of the base disgrace subjected to Adam Goodes’, calling us all out on racism, casual or pronounced, supremacist or patronising. Breythe, like his creator, is sick of it and we should be sick of it too.
As an actor and a writer, Breythe/Wyatt states his responsibility to represent his community, and this second act opening address acts as a mirror, a powerful reflection of the state of play in contemporary Australia. And what an unflattering reflection it is.
City of Gold is a complex piece of work, full of righteous anger, full of family love, the writing raging and wide ranging, the performances sublime, the direction of Isaac Drandic precise and commanding. Set by Simona Cosentini and Simone Tesorieri is another winner.
Urgent, pungent, coruscating and wholly unforgettable, City of Gold is a theatrical statement of the heart, an absolute MUST SEE.
Griffin Theatre Company presents
City of Gold
by Meyne Wyatt
Director Isaac Drandic
Venue: SBW Stables Theatre | 10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross NSW
Dates: 31 July – 31 August 2019
Tickets: $62 – $38
A co-production with Queensland Theatre