Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Wednesday, 5 March 2003
Inheritance by Hannie Rayson MTC,
Inheritance by Hannie Rayson Melbourne Theatre Company
Playhouse, Arts Centre, March 5 to April 5, 2003
Life on the land is
difficult enough without adversity within a farming family.Hannie Rayson's
play, Inheritance, depicts two families warring over a Mallee property.
The play is funny,
distinctively Australian, with believable characters, emotional layering and a
socio-political intention. "It engages with
the political and ethical forest in which we lead our lives," to quote
Inheritance is based
on intensive research into farming communities in the Mallee. The density of the
research is both the asset and burden of Rayson's script. On the positive
side, family members of the Delaneys and Hamiltons are thoroughly credible Aussie battlers. Out of their mouths comes
authentic, often hilarious, Australian vernacular.
On the negative
side, the play becomes expository. The weight of the research causes mounds of
information to be included in narrations and dialogue. That said,
Inheritance is a fine fictional representation of a family in crisis.
Eighty year old sisters, Dibs Hamilton (Monica Maughan ) and Girlie Delaney (Lois Ramsay ) still live on their
family farm. Dibs inherited it on
a toss of a coin and her husband, Farley, (Ronald Falk ) was mater of the land.
On their eightieth
birthday, things begin to go awry. Who inherits the farm? This is evidently a
burning issue in farming families. Secrecy, deception,
self-interest, rights of ownership and an undisclosed will are fuel for an emotionally
volatile battle to rival the Ancient Greeks.
Simon Phillips direction is slick and lively on Shaun
Gurton's design, reminiscent of a huge barn. It is lit evocatively by Nick Schlieper.
and the religious rivalry is
captured in Ian McDonald's music.
Maughan effectively portrays
both Dibs' warmth and her latent strength. As Girlie, Ramsay has the funniest
lines and makes a meal of them. Falk plays Farley,
the senile but still tyrannical old patriarch with sympathy.
As Lyle, one of the second generation, Steve
Bisley captures the bluster, panic and idealism of the failed but dogged
farmer. Wayne Blair plays Nugget, the adopted aboriginal son of Dibs and Farley, with
compassion and intensity.
Geraldine Turner plays
the dislikeable Maureen Delaney with
relish. Suffice to say Maureen is Pauline Hanson revisited.
types are city dwellers: the older gay son, (Rhys McConnochie ), the lefty daughter,
(Julie Nihill ) and her teenage, vegan son, (Gareth Ellis )
The play is
absorbing, funny and reveals issues of rural life we might never consider in
our city abodes.