Queensland Theatre’s Company contemporary Australian production of Brisbane is unequivocally an effective piece of theatre of truth that draws upon the stories of World War II with direct focus on the city of Brisbane. Written by Matthew Ryan and directed by Iain Sinclair, the play is skillfully constructed, whereby the clever application of dramatic treatment in the style of magic realism has made for an extremely successful and entertaining piece of theatre. The play makes for an effective piece of drama as it communicates vital messages by the utilisation of the elements of drama, in particular, human context and symbolism as well as, the use of style and staging. Additionally, Ryan’s assertion, “…its impossible to truly capture the past – but we can always conjure its spirit,” (Ryan, M., 2015) exacerbates this and further highlights that to a significant extent, Brisbane is an effective piece of theatre of truth.
Brisbane is undoubtedly an effective piece of theatre of truth as the dramatic meaning in the play is ever relevant to the contemporary audience. The predominant concept of dealing with loss is a crucial part depicted in the on-stage action as it has a large emotional impact on the audience. Annie Fisher (Veronica Neave) is a loving mother, who struggles with the death of her son Frank (Conrad Coleby). Post the tragic news; her denial is made obvious through her strange mannerisms, particularly when she searches for Frank across Brisbane in hope of his return. To take on the role of a heartbroken mother, Veronica skilfully explores the emotions and actions one endures during the stages of grief and hence, obtains a quiet and hurt voice as well as displaying soft actions to further show the audience that Annie is dealing with loss. The loss of a loved one elicits a tragic response and this reaction to death has not changed over the decades, making the play’s central idea appropriate and accessible for modern audiences. The purpose of the play was to communicate the severe impact the war had, delivering the main concept of dealing with loss, as this was a major factor inflicted onto the innocent citizens of Brisbane. Brisbane successfully delivers this message through the clever utilisation of the elements of drama, in particular human context and symbolism as well as, style and staging. Ryan’s statement, “We all look back for answers. We all want back what is lost,” (Ryan, M., 2015) further proves that World War II took a huge toll on the people of Brisbane during this era as they lost their innocence and were forced to cope with the harsh reality of war, death.
The universal and powerful concept of dealing with loss is communicated to the audience through the skilful use of elements of drama exhibited in the performance. The human context, more specifically, the relationships between characters, was created on-stage by numerous acting techniques and taking into consideration the Stanislavski’s system, in aim of delivering the required dramatic action to achieve thorough communication of the underlining theme. An integral relationship shared in Brisbane is one of mother and son, Danny (Dash Kruck) and Annie Fisher, whereby, Danny pretends to be his elder brother in attempt to ease the pain his mother is experiencing. When this moment occurs on-stage, Kruck utilises vocal and physical techniques to show his position in the situation and to also, position the viewers to understand that he and his mother are struggling to cope with the challenges of war, chiefly loss. For example, Kruck projects a hesitant voice and also, spatially obtains awkward body language when standing on a stool behind Neave, revealing that Danny is uncertain whether pretending to his mother is the moral thing to carry out in the circumstance. Clearly, through the uncomfortable relationship presented on-stage comprehended by the clever utilisation of acting techniques and also, more explicitly, the character of Danny not being