Mir­ror on your home life

Tor­tu­ous and hi­lar­i­ous, David Wil­liamson’s Af­ter the Ball traces the test­ing re­al­i­ties of fam­ily is­sues, writes Kate Hick­son

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - SHOWS -

ASTING a crit­i­cal eye on Aus­tralian sub­ur­ban life, David Wil­liamson’s Af­ter the Ball is as rel­e­vant to­day as it was when it was writ­ten in the 1960s.

The is­sues faced by fam­i­lies re­main the same: in­jus­tice, in­equal­ity, chang­ing dy­nam­ics and chal­lenges – all of which, says di­rec­tor Maria Grills, are fa­mil­iar to many peo­ple.

Grills has as­sem­bled a stel­lar cast of Phoenix En­sem­ble reg­u­lars for the con­fronting drama, which tack­les of­ten taboo themes.

‘‘The is­sues within the fam­ily are not iso­lated to the pe­riod of the play,’’ she says.

‘‘We still have is­sues of our chil­dren chas­ing dreams, leav­ing home, the sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity to­ward fam­ily, all be­ing played out in homes to­day. I look at char­ac­ters within Af­ter the Ball and see my­self, my par­ents, and my sib­lings.’’

Those char­ac­ters in­clude Stephen and his sis­ters, who re­turn home to their dy­ing mother and dust off fam­ily pho­tos and child­hood mem­o­ries to dis­cover con­flict­ing ver­sions of their par­ents’ mar­riage.

‘‘The ma­jor themes are still so rel­e­vant – so­cial is­sues of jus­tice and equal­ity and peo­ple’s re­ac­tions to is­sues and ac­tions taken by those in po­si­tions of power,’’ Grills says.

‘‘I could see the dy­nam­ics of fam­ily and in­ter­ac­tions be­tween char­ac­ters that I could wit­ness any day of the week in my own fam­ily and those of friends. Nearly ev­ery­one who sees the play will recog­nise some­thing of them­selves, or some­one they know.’’

Grills’ love for Aus­tralian plays dates back to her youth, when she left Australia to chase her dreams.

‘‘Like so many per­form­ers and young peo­ple in the ’60s, I headed to Eng­land to find what it was I was look­ing for,’’ she says.

‘‘Af­ter five years I re­turned home to find that here was the most fab­u­lous place to live, and we had writ­ers and per­form­ers as good as, if not bet­ter than, many I had come across over­seas.’’

She says Wil­liamson’s plays were a ‘‘wel­come home’’ gift to her­self.

Af­ter the Ball stars Jo Cas­tle (as Kate), Jan­ice Han­cock (young Kate), Heather Scott (Judy), Bri­ana Thompson (young Judy), Steve Pearton (Stephen), David Sigston (young Stephen), Kevin Doyle (Ron), Marie Ortquist (Claire) and Sue Mat­ley (Mau­reen).

plays the Pav­il­ion Theatre, Been­leigh, Fri­days and Satur­days at 7.30pm un­til June 23.

David Stigston (as young Stephen), Jan­ice Han­cock (young Kate) and Steven Pearton (older Stephen) in

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