Shrine: Canberra Review

John Howard Image by Gary Marsh Photography
John Howard
Image by Gary Marsh Photography

Shrine by Tim Winton, one of Australia’s most lauded and interesting writers, is like a memory; a journey of emotion where multiple time and place are collaged together. The narrative jumps in time from present to past and the role of narrator is shared by the characters in a way that slowly reveals the whole picture.

It is a piece about a young man’s death in a car crash on a country road in Western Australia; there is a mystery surrounding the events of his death and who is responsible. In their third collaboration, Winton and director Kate Cherry have done a remarkable job of crafting a difficult story about grief and loss with a topical subject at the heart of many Australian families’ experiences. Road side shrines decorate our landscape and indeed in suburban Canberra, just around the corner from my house, is a shrine to a young man taken before he got a chance to really taste life.

The performance features strong and simple storytelling that swings in and out of naturalistic scenes and direct address encased in a cleverly rendered abstract set and lighting by young up and coming designer Trent Suidgeest. The tight ensemble comprises John Howard, Paul Ashcroft, Luke McMahon, Sarah McNeill, Whitney Richards and Will McNeill, and is supported by a young and able design and stage management team.

This show should be compulsory viewing for all teenagers and I can’t recommend it enough on this count, even though I know the majority of the audience will be older adults. As the last show in this years’ Collected Works and part of the Centenary season, this is your opportunity to catch Shrine at the last stop in its journey around the country.

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