In the fictional, Australian country town of Coriole, they’re planning the Australia Day festivities. It will probably be the same as last year but getting the right multicultural sausage on the barbie is important, and so is a committee. This one is a blend of political and partisan views with the odd Australian born Vietnamese thrown in for good measure. It’s Australia Day by Jonathan Biggins and this version at New Theatre could be the recipe for a much-needed laugh at the end of the year.
Poking fun at Australian ‘jingoism’ has some risk. The parochial country town is a bit of a sitting duck for satirists and it would be easy to fall into excess and cheap shots. Jonathan Biggins (The Wharf Review) is one of our finest writers and while he can throw barbs, Australia Day is a work that shows restraint and empathy for people – it has a dig but always with gentleness and humour.
Director Louise Fischer, is also conscious of the sensitivities, having grown up in the country herself.
“It looks at the foibles and idiosyncrasies of country folk but in the end, what they’ve got is a huge heart.”
Exploring the Australian identity can seem like a form of national adolescence at times. Fischer agrees. “When we just got on with the basis of being Australian, we didn’t need to worry about our identity. I grew up being Australian just thinking it was a nice thing to be. I think we are too preoccupied with it and we should just ‘be’.“
And priceless moments to watch for?
“Let’s just say you will never look at sausages the same again.”
Nov 14-Dec 16. New Theatre, 542 King Street, Newtown. $20-$35. Tickets & Info: www.newtheatre.org.au or Ph: (02) 9519 3403