Celebrating 50 years of producing plays, Queensland Theatre opened their 2020 season this week with a brilliant production of David Williamson's satire Emerald City.
It’s the ‘80s and Sydney is the ‘Emerald City’ of Australian show business. Colin (Jason Klarwein) is a successful screenwriter who followed the yellow brick road from Melbourne with wife Kate (Nadine Garner) to advance his career. The social construct of Colin’s career tests his integrity, while Kate’s career as a publisher reaches new heights, creating a relatable competitive struggle within their marriage. Meanwhile, Mike – the sexist hack writer (Rhys Muldoon) with whom Colin engaged to type dictation for his latest work – is exploiting their work relationship for his own agenda.
Importing the majority of the cast from interstate was a discerning choice by outgoing Artistic Director Sam Strong. The interstate cast members brought Williamson’s play to life with their exceptional talent, believability, and professionalism, raising the bar for all future Queensland Theatre productions.
The stunning set design of a diamante-beaded backdrop curtain shaped as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and revolving minimalist set by Designer Dale Ferguson contemporised the 1980s-themed play. And although there were a few sound and lighting technicalities during the first half on opening night, the lighting design by David Walters added just the right amount of mood when needed in the second half.
It’s no coincidence that a David Williamson play was chosen to start the 50-year celebratory season for Queensland Theatre, as this year also marks half a century of the Australian playwright’s achievements.
Co-produced between Queensland Theatre and Melbourne Theatre Company, the Emerald City season at QPAC continues until 29 February 20