Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre
at Hickson Road, Walsh Bay.
July 30 until August 23.
Tickets: $77. Bookings: (02) 9250 1777

The Sydney Morning Herald – Friday 1st August – Brycett Hallett had this to say about the production:
The ghostly sight of young Australian men boarding a ship destined for uncertain adventure and later; nestled in a boat, their oars pointing to the heavens before ploughing the cruel sea, are among Gallipoli’s unforgettably stirring images.

Devised and directed by Nigel Jamieson, the epic is drawn from first-hand accounts of the 1915 campaign which would become a defining moment in Australia’s history: a much-mythologised time and place where many believe our national character was formed and out of which our true psychological independence grew.

 Jamieson never loses sight of the big picture or of the social conscience driving the ambitious work. He and the splendid creative team, notably Trudy Dalgleish (lighting), Alan John (composer, musical director) and Antonia Fredman (video artist), have crafted a lyrical, tough, entertaining and wrenching account, not just of the mateship, fragility and skylarking but the carnage and disease that turned trenches into horrific deathbeds.

It throws into stalk relief the romanticised heroism and propaganda of the censored reports and what Charles Bean, the official Australian war correspondent, exposed in his diaries to be the truth of the matter: horror; beastliness, cowardice and treachery.

Performed on a raked stage with an amazing, albeit deceptive, simplicity, Gallipoli incorporates the rough-hewn delights of music hall, a fluid form of expressionist theatre with its clever and convenient trapdoors, the social awareness of Joan Littlewood’s political theatre and a muscularity and wryness that seems purely Australian. It is vigorously and skilfully played by the cast.

The Sydney Theatre Company’s permanent acting ensemble has manned the trenches several times to explore the bloodbath and cost of war but this is by far the most gripping and powerful to date. The consistently fine actors John Gaden, Pamela Rabe and Peter Carroll, among others, afford necessary depth alongside the third year acting students from NIDA The meld of movement and music invites comparison with The National Theatre of Scotland’s exhilarating and affecting Black Watch, but Jamieson’s (Honour Bound, Dead Man Walking) flights of fancy further reveal his own clear-sighted stage mastery.

Apart from a couple of didactic history-lesson patches in the second half, the epic sweeps the audience into its dovetailing vignettes of political expediency, military incompetence, misery and sacrifice with great immediacy, musicality and force. There is occasional pause for reverie amid the spectacle and when such moments arrive they are genuinely moving and tragic, none more so than the fury of flies swarming around bodies or the rising roll- call of the dead at the climax.

Gallipoli is a landmark production. It deserves a wide audience.

To read The Australian’s review click here.

Message from the web editor:- Well worth seeing if you have the opportunity.

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