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