Writer H. Lawrence Sumner is playful, provocative, political and passionate in this new play making its world premiere as a Sydney Theatre Company production – and his first fully realised work.
The Long Forgotten Dream is inspired by true stories and informed by the playwright’s own experience and observations as a Ngarrindjeri man.
Jeremiah Tucker (Wayne Blair) lives with his sister, Lizzie (Ningali Lawford-Wolf) in a small South Australian coastal town. His daughter, Simone (Jada Alberts), an archeologist, has spent the last two years travelling around the world in search of the remains of her great grandfather, and has just arrived home with the news that she has found them and has arranged for their repatriation from England. The announcement does not meet with approval from Jeremiah; we learn why through a gradual stream of revelations as the plot unfurls. The impending return of the bones of Tulla, the great grandfather (who was destined to be king of his nation before being murdered) has attracted media attention and is becoming a large scale event in the town. Pastor Henry Giles (Justin Smith), who has his own history with the Tucker family, represents the good-intentioned but ill-informed and ultimately intrusive “white feller” trying to rectify transgressions of the past.
The play is intense and fraught with complex ethical conundrums that stem from conflicting culture, belief and generational experience. But the tension is frequently broken by humour and wonderment. Stark realism is offset by a supernatural side story with Melissa Jaffer playing the recently deceased great grand-mother of Simone.
The set design incorporates clever use of screens and beautiful yellow and ochre earth tones evoking the Australian landscape. Composer and musician, William Barton sits at the side of the stage adding an ambient underscore of moody synth pads, didgeridoo and haunting vocals.
It’s a play that will make you think and feel, and occasionally laugh.
Until Aug 25. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney. $83-$99+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.sydneytheatre.com.au
Review by Rita Bratovich