May 7-18: Brown's Mart theatre, Darwin.
June 6-21: JUTE Theatre Company, Cairns
Memory can be a real drag.
Russell’s ghosts were kind of at rest. He was at peace with it all, even the fact that he didn't know who his biological father was. His mother, Lois, disappeared when he was eight, leaving him to be raised by Neville, a stalwart of the no-nonsense Regional Right,
It’s Darwin, 2001, and Russell and his partner Alistair have transformed Russell’s childhood home into the ‘Tectonic Plate’; ‘hip urban café and art gallery by day, queer cabaret dive by night’.
When three separate events over the course of two weeks start to churn things up, the ghosts from Russell’s past begin to intrude on his present and he embarks on a quest to determine his identity.
The search transports him back to the bohemian world of his childhood; Darwin, 1975, and beyond to his conception; PNG, 1967, where bored ex-TAA hostie, Lois, has tired of Neville’s conservatism and joined the ‘Moresby Arts Theatre’, where she soon starts courting liaisons with members of the community positioned more dangerously at its anarchic edges.
To a soundtrack of Suzi Quatro, Shirley Bassey and Nana Mouskouri, Russell pieces together the events leading to that fateful night when his favourite Abba record was broken and everything else fell apart.
With more than a passing nod at Tennessee Williams, Stephen Carleton has created a passionate, funny and vividly perceptive work about family and identity expertly woven together with dry wit and an earthy tell-it-like-it-is wisdom, which resonates both on a personal level and, more broadly, as a political commentary on a pivotal period in Australia’s history.
[Russell]’s quest is a personal one; to determine his own patrilineal identity, but his journey is a metaphor for the role North Australia has in determining the nation’s identity, and Australia’s place in this region of the world. 1975 is the pivotal year in which the region shook off the shackles of colonialism, and Australia was required to ‘mature’ and play an adult role in South-East Asia.