by Michael McLaughlin
Published in The Mercury newspaper – 13 March 2013
As We Forgive
Backspace and Tasmanian Regional Venues
Until March 24
A special quality of a one person plays is how single characters can take an audience into their confidence. Deeply into their confidence. This quality has been exquisitely worked by a trio of Australia’s best theatre artists in this world premiere season for Tasmania Performs and Ten Days on the Island.
This is theatre at first glance, of utter simplicity – one actor, three stories, three blokes, three different chairs. Yet the ethical, even spiritual complexities are immense. Can revenge restore what’s been taken from you? Can hate heal? Is forgiveness of the unforgiveable, possible?
And while the narratives of trauma that fill this play are not unique (think the short stories of a Tim Winton or a Raymond Carver) what is distinctive is playwright Tom Holloway’s capacity to build in the drama of deep self-reflection. For a playwright whose work has explored the limits of language, here words, transform – “..there, I’ve said it!” repeats the old man.
And what great drama! Robert Jarman’s trademark generosity as a performer is all present. But within the marked formality and stark beauty of director/designer Julian Meyrick’s production, he has found a new precision, his acting delivering up the profound ordinariness of his major characters.
This is mature drama, elegantly and meticulously prepared – the autumnal images of photographer Lisa Garland beautifully handled. Like all great theatre we just come out feeling that little bit more human.