Thursday, 18 August 2011

Namatjira, August 17, 2011

Review: Namatjira, at Malthouse Melbourne ****

NAMATJIRA, Malthouse Theatre, until August 28 

This production provides us with a window into his life as a famous indigenous artist and Australia's first Aboriginal citizen.

His story is both uplifting and heartbreaking and Trevor Jamieson charms us, playing Albert himself and embodying the myriad characters that populate his world.

Namatjira - created by Scott Rankin with the Namatjira family - has heart, and its impact is increased tenfold by the presence on stage of several of Namatjira's grandchildren who quietly complete an enormous chalk landscape on the rear walls.

A striking, life-size portrait of Jamieson as Namatjira takes pride of place, and portrait artist Robert Hannaford intermittently adds touches of paint.

Derek Lynch is delightful playing multiple characters and his duet with Jamieson, singing Can't Get Enough of Your Love, was a comical highlight.

The lighter first half - peppered with tongue-in-cheek jokes about liberal, white, urban Australians patronising the indigenous and appropriating their culture - makes way for the tragic latter part of Namatjira's life.

Star rating: ****

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