Image Provided by Black Swan State Theatre Company
By Emma Forsyth
Thank goodness that Omicron did not completely stop this production from coming to Perth. With critically acclaimed shows in Brisbane and Sydney, City of Gold was a force to be reckoned with. Directed by Shari Sebbens and written and starred in by Meyne Wyatt, prepare to be faced with the past we know as a society, yet are still unprepared to fix for the better.
Set-in present-day Kalgoorlie, City of Gold confronts the underlying racism and injustice towards Indigenous People. A narrative that we definitely need to be listening too and learning more about. The play explores racist themes of white denial, cultural appropriation, white privilege, and black lives matter. There is still a serious divide and injustice that exists within our society and whilst there is an effort to recognise this, the voices of the Indigenous community must be listened to more. To this day, the life expectancy of an Indigenous Australian is much lower than that of a white Australian. City of Goldseeks to educate us in what needs to be done and what issues remain from the past. What is being shown is real and immediate. These are current realities that should be mitigated.
The first act, whilst very entertaining was more of a context builder, seeking to establish a plot and unhinge us from our racial ignorance. The use of lighting and sound is very powerful yet tangible; making you feel like you’re sitting on the porch with Breythe and his family. Whilst there are comedic elements of cliché statements, Australian stereotypes, and pop culture references such as the use of country music; the play’s message is never diminished. Staying true to portraying and depicting an issue that still needs to be addressed- an issue that we must at all costs continue to fix – by listening to what we are being told to make a permanent change.
For me, the second act was the true performance that had me in awe, then laughing hysterically, before being moved to tears. The incredible use of sound was continued with the spell bounding live singing that added a whole new element to the production. Opening with Meyne Wyatt’s incredibly powerful monologue that is absolutely breathtaking in its vitality, it is the semi-autobiographical story of oppression and white privilege that asks how long it will be until we stop defining someone based on their race. Why can’t they just be an actor and why must they keep their voice hidden if they want to be successful in our entertainment industry? I feel like nothing can prepare you for the very potently confronting ending to the play but know that it’s something you’ve definitely seen before.
All of the cast (Mathew Cooper, St John Cowcher, Simone Detourbet, Ian Michael, Myles Pollard, Trevor Ryan, Meyne Wyatt) were incredible. Meyne Wyatt was of course brilliant in his performance but for me, Simone Detourbet also gave a very impressive performance and I hope to see more of her in the future.
As it should be, City of Gold is unapologetically unrelenting and honest in its delivery. I do hope that this is not the last we will be seeing of this incredible production here in WA.
Five out of Five Pelicans