Review: One Day of the Year

One Day of the Year, Canberra Repertory Society, by Alan Seymour. Friday 18th April, continues till 3rd May

On Friday night I continued my theatrical education, having the opportunity to see a presentation of a play at Canberra Reps’ Theatre Three. The play, The One Day Of The Year, is a production set in a time when Australia celebrated ritual. The cast consisted of:

Alf (Ian Croker), the central member of this quintet, a husband and father.

Wacka (Graham Robertson), friend to the family and remnant of a previous war.

Hughie (Ross Walker), the son.

Dot (Judy Crane), his wife who is caught in the middle holding the family together.

As well as a North Shore ring-in, Jan, the son’s fickle bit o’ skirt and a provocateur.

The performance of each actor: audible, credible, expressive and more than believable. The set: allowing the audience to secrete itself in this average Sydney suburban house, circa nineteen-sixty. The theme seemed to revolve around the tradition of Anzac Day and the absurdity of marching our soldiers as they get older, year after year, under the banner of war and the question asked is ‘why?’ The answer seems to be discovered after the heartache of watching Alf succumb to his own excesses and prejudice, which are the real guts of the play.

The 1960’s ANZAC traditions of intoxication, domestic violence, public celebration and humiliation are grist for the mill as the family deals with issues of mateship versus family, the myth of war versus the reality. The son challenging the alpha male, the mother attempting to keep up appearances, Wacka, the excuse and the justification for Alf’s behavior, all fueling his contempt for anything not Australian, particularly the Poms, the focus of much of his aggresion. Disillusioned and angry at his station in life, he is yet Australian and proud of it.

This play, while seeming a little dated, is still relevant. I related to the characters. In this day and age I noted that the questioning behavior regarding our traditions hasn”t changed, just the awareness surrounding the occasion, as well as the changing of the guard given charge of this responsibility we call Anzac Day, once a celebration of our nation’s security and now a matter of national security.

I would recommend taking advantage of this opportunity to see this classic Australian play, if for no other reason than just to celebrate that one day differently, to the honor of, and with a sense of respect and admiration for, the depth of the sacrifice those that went to war made, as well as the performance of this fine collection of thespians.

Bic Parker

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