Monday, 9 December 2002

Blak Inside 3: Playbox & Ilbijerri, Dec 9, 2002

Blak Inside 3: Casting Doubts & Crow Fire 
By Playbox Theatre and Ilbijerri Theatre
At Beckett Theatre, Dec 9, 2002 until February 23, 2003
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Blak Inside 3 is the third week in the Playbox -Ilbijerri collaboration. These two plays confront challenging issues about aboriginality in a contemporary society with varying success.

Casting Doubts is the more successful dealing with a casting agency specialising in aboriginal actors.

The characters include white-looking Mick, (Bruce Morgan) conceited and incompetent Wally (Isaac Drandich) who lands all the typical 'blackfella' roles and the agency PA who hides her aboriginality. (Suzanne Clarke

Mick can't get a role because he is too white. Jimmi (Phil Haby) is too stroppy and Linda (Tammy Clarkson) is forced to play pretty victims.

Maryanne Sam's script works as comedy. It raises some issues of prejudice, preconceptions of white film directors and the challenges facing an actor of colour.

Heather Bolton is clever, hilarious and credible as the vodka-swilling casting agent Deborah. Haby has great range as Jimmi, the serious, albeit recalcitrant actor. Clarkson is a successful Linda and Drandich plays a lively Wally.

However, the resolution is glib and not credible. Mick suddenly gets money from nowhere to produce and direct his own film.

Crow Fire is less effective as a play. The ideas are potent but a good idea needs to be realised in quality writing, direction and acting. Jadah Milroy's play is confusing and borders on incoherent. 

Dayna, a young aboriginal woman is ashamed of taking a government job and ignoring her aboriginality. Her friend, Tony (Tony Briggs) is an aboriginal political activist.

An older man, Yungi (Djunawong Stanley Mirindo) from a desert tribe up north, arrives in town to remind Dayna of her long-forgotten promises to the tribe. He garners our sympathy immediately, despite the actor reading from the script.

Dayna dresses as a crow and walks the streets taunting people. It is unclear how this heightens her sense of her culture. The crow is a blurry symbol and often evokes laughter rather than pathos. While the metaphor of the White Lady as heroin is laboured.

The argument is interesting that urban aboriginals replace their search for culture with their fight for recognition. This point deserves more attention.

The dialogue is preachy and expository and scenes are often too short. The narrative about an unhappy white couple (Rachael Tidd, Steve Mouzakis) is irrrelevant and offensively represents the pair as total idiots. Andrea James' direction is awkward and scene changes are clunky.
This production needs work.

By Kate Herbert

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