30th April 2015
Queensland Theater Company
'Brisbane' the new play by Matthew Ryan is brilliant. It is also the second locally written and created play I have seen this week. For two hours and 15 minutes I cried, mostly with laughter, but also with emotion. This is a huge and epic play about War in 1942 and how it affects a 14 year old boy who has a grand imagination, so much inexperience and a profound love of his big brother which he redirects towards an American soldier when 150,000 of them come to Brisbane along with General MacArthur.
There are shootings and stabbings and scandal in Brisbane, riots, lots of silk stockings and a heavy dose of jealousy from the Australian soldiers who were paid less and still rough around the edges. There is a big story and a family in mourning, local brats teasing the gentler Danny played so perfectly and charismatically by the wonderful Dash Kruck whom I have seen and really grown to love in several plays and a cabaret. Beautiful and compelling Veronica Neave is his grief stricken mother and the tough and angry father is played by Hayden Spencer. The nine superb cast members apart from Dash play several roles each with brilliant and regular changes. It must have been busy back stage.
The audience loved this work, responded enthusiastically throughout and as mentioned by others they even anticipated dialogue as you could hear murmured place names occasionally. This uniting in a spirit of familiarity and unity came to the fore when the entire audience sang happy birthday to cast member and newly 30 year old Matthew Backer during the curtain calls. Often you just had to nod or smile at the person sitting beside you. Music and sound by Guy Webster was a subtle, but so evocative blend with every action and word. A true score to boost the play. Nostalgia for some and just emotional for others.
During the Q&A that followed last night's performance there was a quite some discussion about could or would this play travel and continue. Yes it has special meaning to locals, but we must not forget that we are a big city of 3 million people. We have had many major events and we are known throughout the world. Always we are made familiar with the stories of other places in this world. Take for example the strife in Baltimore at the moment. We know about that place and it is a small town of 600,000. John Waters, Mink Stole and Divine hail from there. Do not think that our grand stories are not of interest to others. There were a huge group of students there and these stories from the past would have been as unfamiliar to them initially as to a non local. We must not underestimate the power of a well written and brilliantly performed piece of theatre to grab any audience by the mind and heart. Finishes Saturday so you still have a chance to see QTC at its best.. Thank you everyone.
I had gone to the play briefing on the 7th April for a preview discussion of what was to come :- "Tonight I went to a briefing for what is destined to be an epic new play, 'Brisbane' written by Matthew Ryan and starring the huge talent of the charismatic and endearing Dash Kruck. I managed to say hello to Dash again and get a sneak preview of the huge set. The lights are mounted 14 metres high which is a record for the Playhouse. The audience is going to identify with this image of Brisbane of 1942 when 96,000 Yanks came to town with General McArthur and ended up rioting against the put out Australian soldiers in what was known as the Battle Of Brisbane. This is part of the coming of age of young 14 year old Danny and of Brisbane itself. A classic at its birth. BTW that huge poster is of Dash Kruck flying the plane."