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.
Thursday, 17 September 2015
They Saw A Thylacine, 16 Sept, 2015 ***
Created & performed by
Justine Campbell and Sarah Hamilton Beckett
Theatre, Malthouse, until Oct 4, 2015 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: ***
Full review will be published here after publication in Herald Sun online today. KH
Justine Campbell and Sarah Hamilton: Rehearsal pic by Pia Johnson
So, how do you
transform the sad and shameful story of the avoidable extinction of the
Tasmanian tiger into a simple but illuminating piece of theatre?
In They Saw A
Thylacine, Justine Campbell and Sarah Hamilton employ good, old-fashioned
storytelling, rhyming dialogue, bold characters and direct address to expose
the incompetence that led to the extinction of the Tassie tiger, AKA thylacine.
79 years ago on
September 7, 1936, the last known Tasmanian tiger – a female – died in
captivity in the Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart.
On an almost
empty, clinically white stage, Campbell and Hamilton use dramatic and evocative
monologues to tell their tale of ignorance, fear, sexism and wholesale trapping
Campbell plays Alison
Reid, the real-life daughter of the last zookeeper at Beaumaris zoo, while Hamilton
is a fictional character, Beattie, a tracker who pursues and catches a yipping
thylacine in the wilds of Tasmania.
As the articulate
and determined Alison, Campbell exposes the ignorance and fear of the zoo authorities
and their sexism that prevented Alison from saving the life of Ben, that last
Beattie is a raw, primitive, young woman living rough but clearly committed to
taking the tiger alive, despite the blood lust of her undesirable companion,
Fred the trapper.
Although the two
actors share the stage and acknowledge each other’s presence, their characters
inhabit different times and places and reveal a litany of bad policies and
idiotic decisions that killed off the thylacine.
While the pace of
this one hour show is gentle, the conservation message is uncompromising and
the two actors create strong characters and some vivid imagery with little
There could be
more dynamic range in the rhythm of the piece and it might benefit from a
little more physicality, but this is an engaging production with a heart and a