By Riley Coven
This weekend I was lucky enough to see a staged reading of a Meadows production, “The Australia Play.” Written by Ariana Howell, “The Australia Play” is an adventure through the eyes of seven different people in the land down under. There is the anxious and excited tourist, the overenthusiastic tour guide, the local native and more. Together they each explain and speak about their experiences with Australia and what they’ve been through. The insights they each provide weave together a fascinating look at the Australian outback.
What struck me most about this play was that, like its title, it didn’t follow any regular style. There was no clear narrative throughout the entire play and the characters didn’t once interact with one another. They used their stories and similar life experiences to shape the world of the play but without ever actually communicating amongst themselves. The format of this was honestly a little off-putting at first and listening to multiple standalone speeches isn’t the most attention grabbing idea, but the writing worked around that problem and kept my attention throughout. The play opened with a monologue from the plucky and overzealous local that wants everyone to join him in his aboriginal dancing and singing. Utilizing the most energetic and happy-go-lucky character first brought the audience into the piece with ease and helped transition them into the style of the play.
The other aspect of this production that really made me enjoy it was the truth behind the writing. Before it began the author explained to us how the story was conceived while she herself was in Australia living amongst these kinds of people. Not only were her personal experiences extremely beneficial to the accuracy of the writing, but she also maintained a strong connection to the piece throughout. It seemed as if every word was chosen with a specific meaning, and the intention of bringing to life her thoughts about the land she had been a part of was clear.
The play was only around forty minutes long, so the characters all had to finish their acts relatively quickly and unfortunately, it occasionally seemed rushed due to this. Each speech gave us more and more insight about the person who gave it, but sometimes they gave away a little too much a little too quickly. I was sometimes taken out of the play when they stumbled on their words or mistook a cue. That being said, it was still just a staged reading and the finished product should be something to proud of when it is released.