Melissa Bubnic

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If the short story is having a ‘moment’, then maybe the short play is having its moment as well. Hence STC’s commissioning of a quintet of Australia’s finest playwrights to create a collection of five short works about power. Power Plays is about identity, survival, love, hate, sex – who wields the power and how they wield it. Steering a course and finding a coherent thread throughout the show is director Paige Rattray.

“Nailing the tone and the idea of the play in 20 minutes is really tricky and everything feeds into that,” said Rattray. “But then making it all one, allowing the ideas in the plays to accumulate over the evening, to build on each other – that’s the trickiest thing”.

Writer Melissa Bubnic (Boys Will be Boys) sets the tone with an opening monologue that plumbs the internal conflict of a woman whose insatiable desire for a designer handbag cannot be quenched. “It’s a stream of consciousness that we’re using as an overture,” said Rattray. “Michelle Lim Davidson is a divine actor, technically unique and incredibly charming. She is popping most of that monologue and then we break out into places where other actors join her.”

For a flagship theatre company like STC, it would be easy to stick with material that is familiar and predictable, but Power Plays promises to be fresh and new. The actors were cast first and the writers wrote around the ensemble. In the writers – Bubnic, Nakkiah Lui, Michele Lee, Hannie Rayson and Debra Thomas – we have some of our best young voices, from wildly diverse backgrounds. Rattray added: “Rather than doing things that are well known and expected, this is so fresh and so now.” (GW)

Sep 17–Oct 15, evenings and matinees. Sydney Theatre Company, Wharf 2 Theatre, The Wharf, Pier 4 Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay. $30-$39. Tickets & info: www.sydneytheatre.com.au or 02 9250 1777