"Phillip's conceptualisation peels off Australia's thick, sandy skin and exposes the skeletal structure of prejudice and wrongness."
Don't Look Away Theatre has stayed true to its moniker and developed a show - no - an event that is as poignant and timely as it is unique.
Nick Enright's 1992 Australian play follows the aftermath of the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl at a party in Blackrock. It is based on the murder of Leigh Leigh, in Stockton in 1989. What follows is a meditation on why the tragedy happened. The overwhelming response is that she was the property of the clan, that she was asking for it, that she was legless drunk, that she was a cocktease - that it was her fault. Performed in Blood Moon Theatre in the back room of World Bar in Kings Cross, there is an uncanny familiarity with these attitudes; the performance is occurring in the clan's heartland.
Phillip Rouse's direction is what Sydney's independent scene is hungry for. A backdrop of clear tarp painted and cleaned and smeared and repainted by the actors was society's canvas. "Shame" was carved into fields of black, the shame not of the perpetrators but of the perpetrated, of the innocent. The play immerses itself in the rhetoric of victim blaming. Phillip's conceptualisation peels off Australia's thick, sandy skin and exposes the skeletal structure of prejudice and wrongness. It is a stupendous achievement in its engagement with theatre's craft and in performance. The actors facilitate this insight through fantastic performances (which this writer has understated). George Banders, Megan Drury, Jack Starkey-Gill and Samantha Young deserve the greatest accolades.
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Watching a rapist and murderer wipe himself clean with a towel soaked in red paint, wiping himself clean while smearing himself with blood, wiping himself clean while divesting himself of responsibility, was visual poetry. It caught the Australian heart in the throats of an audience that knows that we need to do better.