A letter sent to Matthew Lutton, director of Away from a Malthouse Muse
Forgive me for slipping away after the play this evening but you were all surrounded by such a buoyant crowd and deservedly celebrating such a marvellous opening night performance!
I have always loved this play and remember the first time I saw it in Sydney. It resonated with me on many levels, not the least being that in 1968 I was exactly the age of the two young protagonists. Watching it that first time in 1987 I was transported to my very recognisable adolescence where we too had holidayed at Lakes Entrance. We were all aware that the world was changing, and that we were so very different from our parents.
Michael Gow challenged his audience in the Eighties through a play that didn't offer any neat resolutions to alienation, confusion and deep sadness. And this unsettled audiences accustomed to more saccharine plot lines. It has lost none of this power today and this production has underscored how relevant it remains.
This is a beautifully constructed piece of theatre Matt. Thank you. Every element was both recognisable and current and I cared about each and every one of the characters. Their frailties were laid bare and, even though I am familiar with the play, I still found myself holding my breath! What an inspired casting of such formidable talent. All the performances were sublime.
But what I loved the most was your vision of this setting. I am struggling to find an adequate way to show my appreciation as stringing together superlatives might not seem sincere..... I am coming again to see the play on Wednesday and I am already looking forward to giving more attention to the set and the lighting. When the stage seemed to levitate and then tilt, leaving all the characters somewhat disconnected and adrift, I almost sobbed. I found this so moving....and I can't really explain why. The starkness of the doorway to the white light was so unsettling and the perfect backdrop as they took tentative steps towards the possibility of change.
The intimacy of the Malthouse space is also a key to the impact of the play. Although more bottoms on seats might be a financial boon, I think this audience size is just about perfect. I try hard not to be blinkered by my affection for the Malthouse but I just feel so moved to say to you all that this really really was a wonderful night at the theatre!
Thank you, and my congratulations and warm wishes to you all.