I love Aussie theatre. You know how some people go weird without coffee and others get that twitch in their left eye when they havent gone sailing in three weeks? Well, Im a bit like that with Aussie theatre. Ive swooned over those brave souls willing to get out and try it and Ive wanted to have passionate affairs with those willing to go off the beaten track and try anything other than a Williamson, Nowra or Gow. Enter Sweet Road by Debra Oswald, and if ever there were anything more off the beaten track, literally and figuratively, I have not seen it. Herein lies its charm.
Sweet Road begins in a car, and to a large extend is performed in and around cars, and yet despite this, it is less about Australias obsession with driving and more about what happens when journeys get derailed. The play follows the lives of six Australians, strangers, each trying to find their way back on track, each trying to find their sweet road.
Michael is a lost soul roaming the back roads of NSW in his never-ending journey to refill Coke machines. Jo has just witnessed her husband of twelve years kissing the pregnant office girl. Frank is in his retirement and had dreams of traveling around Australia, but feels bogged. Carla is an over worked young mother with three kids in tow, two of her own, one belonging to the man she married.
These are among the many characters who draw us in, but its the intersections of their lives thats the real meat of the play. Each intersection is a cross-roads where chance can either put them back on track, or ricochet them off into the wilderness.
Sweet Road is ripe material for the students at the University of Queenslands Underground Productions, as the play contains rich characters and themes, presenting an excellent opportunity for the director to bring his own vision to the work. While director Scott Drummonds use of multimedia, coupled with Tanja Beers strong professional stage design, served to transport us to the Outback, I was left wondering whether a less direct approach may have better represented the emotional landscape within the play.
Sweet Road is not an easy night at the theatre, but it can be an interesting one. I recommend it to those who enjoy the yarn after the play as much as the play itself, the challenge of pulling the ideas together, of coming to your own conclusions, and for those who, like me, enjoy Aussie theatre off the beaten track.
Directed by Scott Drummond
Playing until 12th March 2005: Wed-Sat 8pm
Running Time: 2 hours including interval