Beautiful and thought provoking
By Ross Larkin
Local playwright, Merrilee Moss’s new work, Running with Emus, is a comedy drama about a small outback community which is considering becoming ‘refugee friendly.’
Part of the current VCE curriculum, the play explores themes of hope, identity and change with surreal elements (namely, a ghost) in an otherwise naturalistic and contemporary setting.
When Pat’s granddaughter Krystal arrives on her doorstep unexpectedly, her youthful spirit and drive immediately makes ripples through a seemingly narrow-minded town, where the idea of refugees and immigrants is a totally foreign concept, pun intended.
As Pat and Krystal’s differing personalities and opinions clash, Krystal begins to assimilate to a new life in the town while learning the truth about her grandmother’s past.
Acting luminary, Julie Nihill, is ideally suited to the introspective and detached Pat, more at ease with the birdlife than the few humans in her predominantly isolated world.
The small, yet strong, supporting cast are all worthy of note, particularly the ever versatile and deft Kevin Dee as well as Sam Baxter, who is excellent as the charismatic Italian ghost, Raffaele, injecting some necessary spice to the mix.
Director Kim Durban takes a minimal and simplistic approach with the staging of the work, which mostly serves it well, but for such a dialogue heavy and arguably lengthy piece in need of trimming, it might have benefited from some more dynamic blocking.
Overall, Running with Emus has some beautiful and thought provoking moments, a stellar cast and plenty of poignance and relevance to the current political climate to warrant a viewing of a piece which will no doubt go on to become a staple in the library of important Australian works.
Running with Emus is playing now at La Mama’s Courthouse Theatre in Carlton until March 22nd. For bookings go to https://lamama.com.au/