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PREVIEW BY EVIN DONOHOE

The third production of Sydney Theatre Company’s 2008 Wharf 2LOUD program, is the world premiere of Saturn’s Return from writer Tommy Murphy and director David Berthold, the team behind the award winning and critically acclaimed Holding the Man and Strangers in Between. In this bold new collaboration they play with shifting perspectives on identity, time and place, in a fantastical theatrical adventure featuring Socratis Otto, Leeanna Walsman and Matthew Zeremes.

Murphy muses on the life-changing crisis some astrologers attribute to the phenomenon of the planet Saturn completing its orbit round the sun. The completion of Saturn’s 29-year-cycle is said to herald a period of major upheaval and challenging life choices. ‘Saturn is a pretty dangerous planet,’ says Murphy ‘and it’s a planet that’s the bringer of responsibility. I’m taking this idea as a metaphor, so as it comes back to the place when you were born you’ll need to reassess and think over things, and that can bring upheaval.

‘Whether it’s a planet causing it or not, a crisis of identity is a really useful thing because it can amount to a crisis of values. You’d want that to happen more than every 29 years, you’d want that to happen every Monday morning.’

For Zara, 28, it suddenly seems the universe is conspiring against her. Sex on drugs has become sordid, but the allure of a threesome is still tempting. The prospect of having children is no longer odious, but mortgages and responsibility remain objects of contempt. But just as she begins to lock things down with her lover Matt, Zara is jettisoned into orbit. She embarks on an imaginative, cosmic journey exploring alternatives and questioning whether extended adolescence, with all its freedoms, may offer more rewards.

‘Zara has built everything around being able to say ‘I love you’ to Matt, her long term partner,’ says Murphy. ‘In scene one there are some new things in the room and for the very first time she hesitates to say those words. It’s such a small thing but it sends her into massive upheaval. It snowballs, and she goes on this journey to test every structure in her life that she has built, and some of them turn out to be unstable.’

For the five productions in the Wharf 2LOUD 2008 season, STC Artistic Directors Andrew Upton and Cate Blanchett have invited diverse artists to play around with expectations of what theatre is all about. They said: ‘Tommy is a bewitching playwright of startling originality. We are excited to usher in his new work and welcome back to the Company his long time collaborator David Berthold.’

Saturn’s Return

Until August 30

Wharf 2, Sydney Theatre Company
Pier 4 Hickson Road Walsh Bay, Sydney

Tickets: $20-$35, 9250 1777 or www.sydneytheatre.com.au