By Emma Forsyth
Delivered as a gift to the audience, Black Swan’s Production of York is the narrative that we need to be telling and listening to more. Set on Ballardong Nyoongar country, in an abandoned hospital in the township of York, expect to travel through historical periods and cultures to uncover both the past we know, and a concealed, less forgiving past. Written by Ian Michael and Chris Isaacs and directed by Clare Watson and Ian Wilkes, this is a production that has been two years in the making.
Prepare to be horrified, to laugh until your sides are aching, and to be moved to tears. This blend of comedy and horror spreads itself across four different eras: 2020, 1985, 1919, and 1830. As we are entrenched further and further into the past, so is our knowledge of the truth gradually awakened. Be prepared to uncover the buried histories that have been built over and omitted in our accounts of our country’s heritage, and even in our school syllabuses. Many times, Australian history has been painted as a lifeless and depthless account of a colonised nation. York rips this image to shreds, revealing a past that is brimming with vitality, life, and injustices that we must continue to acknowledge and transmit – so that our narrative may be fixed to represent the truth and only the truth.
The element of comedy will liven your spirits. Expect clichéd statements, Australian stereotypes, pop culture references and maybe even an element of Ghostbusters! The horror is brilliantly executed, so much so you feel as if there really is a ghost (or few) in the room. All we can say is maybe keep the lights on in your kitchen after you’ve seen this play.
All of the actors are quite clearly born entertainers and storytellers. The potent performances were a standout, as were the looming silent figures. The play sheds light skilfully on the ongoing issue of denying the violence of colonisation that needs to be addressed more rigorously. A must-see show (we hope it’s back next year!)
The show is a fresh, bold concept that deserves our full attention for its entertaining originality.
Black Swan Theatre’s Season is quite clearly unmissable and worth keeping an eye on!
Five Pelicans out of five!
Image courtesy of Black Swan State Theatre Company.