Theatre Review: Western Sky Theatre's Engrossing Adaption of Once We Lived Here
Imagine Aladdin singing 'I can show you the world...' on a quad bike, wearing a stetson and a flanno... that is this show, and you definitely want to see it. Once We Lived Here is a timeless tragicomedy that makes its audience alternate between laughing and crying, sometimes both at the same time. It tells the iconic Australian story of a farm going under in the most hilarious and tragic of ways, exploring the ruthless brutality of family relationships when things get tough. While it would be nice to see some theatre being slightly more creative with the Australian narrative I cannot credit this play on what it is not, I can only credit it on what it is, and that is bloody wonderful.
The cast delivered strong characters all round with an authenticity that is hard to find in such dramatised and musical theatre. Remarkably, they are characters we can all relate to, but are not shallow in appealing to everyone. The performance is world class, the type you can't buy at Kmart or Target Country. Each actor played the room, manipulating the sense of humour we all share, with impeccable comedic timing that took the audience on the ride of their lives; audience interaction included. Props to everyone for the maintenance of the Aussie accent while singing (what is this sorcery? how do y'all do it?). Musically, the creation of the Australian landscape with the acoustic guitar, double-bass and piano was slightly simplistic, but perfectly so.
(Images by Marshall Stay)
The script is impeccable, with a non-refundable amount of doom and gloom. I will give a trigger warning for some very heavy content, but it is all interspersed with wit and joke's at other people's expense. It is candid, and I often gasped in horror, wondering 'did she really say that?' But of course she did, and I was taken back to moments when I shouldn't have opened my mouth.
Heartwrenching and full of gut, Once We Lived Here is family at its best and its worst, with incredibly catchy show tunes. If it teaches us anything it is that in the end times there will be hope and good humour. Go, if for nothing else, for the amazing chalk paint drawings of the Australian outback. Go, and don't forget to take a hanky, because for a show set in drought there sure wasn't a dry eye in the room by the end.