Review: "The Line" by Co3 Australia is a suspenseful and confronting retelling of Australia's past
THE LINE by Co3 Australia casts light on the horrific past of Western Australia, specifically laws against Aboriginal people such as the Prohibited Area, which prevented them from entering into the City of Perth after 6:00 pm. The story, created by Raewyn Hill and Mark Howett, incorporated an invigorating ensemble of suspenseful music and cleverly fluid dance and fight scenes that portrayed the struggle of interracial relationships during this time.
“We use Kinnane’s book as a bit of inspiration because his grandfather was English and his grandmother was Aboriginal and just how hard it was for them to have a normal relationship.”
“The biggest thing about it was the interracial relationships and how they were really impacted by all the laws,” Howett said.
The performing artists, Andrew Searle, Katherine Gurr, and Ian Wilkes led by dance director Erynne Mulholland, created the dynamic of an interracial couple being chased upon by an Englishman for violating the Prohibited Area law. They were joined by composer and associate artist Eden Mulholland and classical accordionist James Crabb who provided the thrilling music that heightened the atmosphere of the theatre.
THE LINE, set in Perth during the 1930s, searched to portray the couple’s difficulty in being with one another and to deliver a message of how Aboriginal peoples’ liberties were constrained by the City of Perth. Between fighting, chasing, and dancing accompanied with the strong flowing music and background vocals from radio broadcasts and other voices, the whole theatre sat on the edge of their seats because of the suspense of the act.
“We just hope that this work initiates conversation and sheds light on it,” Howett said.
“It’s in our need to tell stories about WA and share the true shared history rather than ignoring it or wishing it to go away.
“Nelson Mandela has this great quote ‘reconciliation doesn’t mean forgetting’, so by understanding each other’s history there can be empathy and therefore change.”
Some of the focus for the creators was to educate viewers about the Prohibited Area because they found out that some people do not even know that it had existed. More importantly, they also wanted to address how there is still discrimination today. Although the performance was informative because of its communicative approach to the audience about a dark time within the City of Perth, it was entertaining nonetheless.
“Talking to people, [we’ve found that many] didn’t even realise that [the Prohibited Area] existed. We’ve sort of uncovered something about our past and then we’ve made a narrative about that, but we talk about the impact on how we are currently, rather than saying here’s a story about [our past],” says Hill.