Namatjira is the story of Albert Namatjira, Australia’s first indigenous citizen and prolific artist of the earlier to mid-20th century. It is a delightful re-telling of his life.
Trevor Jamieson as Namatjira is magnetic as he flits seamlessly from character to character in this remarkable story of a great Aboriginal Australian. Namatjira’s life is re-enacted by Jamieson and the cast, which includes Rhia Parker, playing some sublimely poised recorder with music by Genevive Lacey, Robert Hannaford as resident portrait painter and wonderfully supported in every other role including a young Royal Queen Elizabeth by Derik Lynch.
This is funny stuff. If it wasn’t for Jamieson’s total command of the space, Lynch could easily steal the spotlight.
Scott Rankin’s wealth of experience as a writer is clearly evident in this beautifully paced work, which is at once humorous and poignant, moving yet camp — thanks to Mr Lynch.
Nigel Leving’s lighting design carries onlookers from different locations and times effortlessly and Genevive Dugard’s centre piece of the set design is a work of art in itself. The sound and costume design by Jim Atkins and Tess Schofield respectively enhance the telling of this man’s journey into the white fella’s world and back.
Namatjira is a story of a special and historical Indigenous Australian and the betrayal thrust upon him by an ignorant and intolerant society.
Rankin has told a great story and, wittingly or not, woven within it the politics of racism in Australia both in the early 20th century and today. The piece is a prime example of historical Australian attitudes towards minority groups and Australia’s tall poppy syndrome – perhaps even a first!
The show is so enjoyable, as it is the story of a simple man who followed his heart, thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining along the way.
Namatjira is a good night at the theatre, full of Big hArt. Check out how “dem black fellas” do it.