Satirical comedy Hinterland sparks deja vuKen Longworth

DARK COMEDY: Joshua Hilton, one of two actors who are playing the role of Henry in Hinterland.

AUSTRALIAN playwright Matt Cameron’s concern in the early 2000s that prime minister John Howard was ignoring the needs of the people led him to write a satirical comedy, Hinterland, that had a working-class man banished to a hidden place for voicing opinions that weren’t to the government’s liking.

While Cameron set the play in the 1950s, the situations it shows have present-day audiences laughing because they reflect the way that people see governments acting now, ignoring promises they made in election campaigns.

Lindsay Street Players, a company that includes adult actors who trained with Young People’s Theatre Newcastle and senior current members of YPT, is staging Hinterland for a season at Young People’s Theatre’s Hamilton venue June 1-9.

Another Matt Cameron play, Ruby Moon, is on the HSC drama reading list, and reading that led to one of YPT’s members looking at Cameron’s other works, and presenting a scene from Hinterland while attending the company’s director training course. The engrossing nature of that scene led to Lindsay Street Players deciding to stage the whole play. Patrick Campbell, a high school drama teacher familiar with Matt Cameron’s works, is directing the dark comedy.

The story initially focuses on a husband and wife, Henry and Olive Quealy, who have a typical family home. Henry is a travelling salesman who moves from door-to-door selling doors and Olive initially saw him as the man of her dreams. Life for Henry, though, is a bit of a nightmare. Power failures keep affecting their home and he gives those whose homes he goes to his opinions on what the government is doing.

His comments lead to a government minister, Winsome Snell, and her volatile security superintendent, Frank Gruel, raiding the Quealy house and sentencing Henry to permanent detention in a dark world behind a door that has mysteriously appeared. But the move leads to Henry becoming more confident and perceptive and prepared to battle the political team.

The play, which includesreferences to the ‘Cumbersome report’, a study the government commissioned from an official called Cumberson and then rejected because it was very critical of its decisions, has two casts. James Chapman and Josh Hilton alternate as Henry, Micaela Phillips and Jasmine Phipps as Olive, Cassie Hamilton and Kate Wooden as Winsome, and James Hilton and Sam Lewis as Gruel.

Performances:Fridays June 1 and 8, 7pm, Saturdays June 2 and 9,2pm and 7pm, Sunday, June 3, 2pm, and Wednesday, June 6, 7pm. Tickets for opening night (including supper) are $23, and $19 for other performances. Bookings: ypt成都模特佳丽招聘.au.

Theatre ReviewsAnnie: KIDSHigh Street Productions, at St Phillip’s Theatre, WaratahEnds SaturdayTHIS is a delightful inaugural production for new company High Street Productions, with the 27 young cast members making the classic story of an orphan girl searching while the Christmas guest of a New York millionaire for the parents she believes to be still alive a very enjoyable 50 minutes.

Director Michael Cooper and his staging team keep the action moving briskly, making good use of the set-changing moments to focus on characters ranging from poorly garbed orphans to elegant business people. The songs, including Tomorrow, Easy Street, and You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile, lose none of their swinging charm in a shorter context. The cruel orphanage operator, Miss Hannigan, likewise retains a darkly funny side.

The Venetian TwinsSt Francis Xavier’s College, at the Civic Playhouse, NewcastleEnded May 5IT has been more than 20 years since this musical adaptation by Maitland-born writer Nick Enright and composer Terence Clarke of the title classic Italian comedy has been staged in Newcastle, and it was good to see a high school team staging it amusingly.

The long separated twins are written to be played by one actor, with each twin being confused and adeptly manipulative when approached by men and women who thought they were the other. But director Patrick Campbell adeptly had them played by different actors, each with white colour on a different side of the face. It was an amusing show, though in this shortened version most of the songs were reduced to background music.