Workplace: Dirt Cheap
Industrial: Daddy Doesnít Live With Us Anymore
Economics: Who's Afraid of the BCA?
International: From the Wreckage
Politics: Infrastructure Blues
History: Meat and Three Veg
Savings: Super Seduction
Politics: Popping the 'E-Word'
Poetry: To Know Somebody
Review: Off the Rails
The Locker Room
Thatís Our Team
Janetís Job No Victory
Royal Finger Lickers
Will $20 Restore Carr?
Off the Rails
English playwright David Hare and director Max Stafford-Clark and nine of Britain's finest actors have brought Sydney audiences a new play of immense social impact: the story of Britain's privatisation of the railways and the subsequent train crashes and other calamities.
The Out of Joint Company won great critical acclaim when its play, The Permanent Way, opened in London with Nicholas de Jongh writing in the London Evening Standard: "Hare has neatly woven characters together, as if embroidering a great Victorian tapestry that illustrates How They Ruined Our Railways... Welcome to inflammatory theatre."
In the Daily Telegraph, Charles Spencer (Princess Di's brother!) , wrote: "A tremendously gripping and often moving play that offers devastating analysis of what is wrong with Blair's Britain. Riveting. I have rarely seen an audience watch and listen to a drama so intently, for this is a piece that gets to the heart of so much that is rotten in Britain today."
While The Guardian's Michael Billington said: "A dazzling oral mosaic. Hare lets people speak movingly for themselves. But he also shapes and orchestrates the material, highlighting the way disaster exposes human vulnerability and divides as well as unifies."
Since opening in Sydney two weeks ago, the play has been well received by local critics. The Sydney Morning Herald's Mark Hopkins described the production as "a tightly orchestrated medley of voices about the privatisation of the British rail network" adding: "Hare's artistry gives gripping voices to the personal stories of such a cruel mix of suffering."
In The Sun-Herald, reviewer Colin Rose wrote: "The Permanent Way sketches this sad, mad misadventure from the privatisation to the fourth crash in 2002 in the words of those who were involved. Playwright David Hare and a group of actors interviewed dozens of people bankers and civil servants, railway executives and engineers, crash survivors and the bereaved to compose this documentary-type performance of first-hand accounts."
The Australian's John McCallum wrote: "Hare's script places at the heart of all this the stories of the victims and of the bereaved. It also explores the politics between these two groups: the bereaved unwilling to let it all go and wanting to fight on, and the survivors unwilling to keep battling and wanting release from their pain -- an apology, some compensation perhaps, but at least an end to the repeating cycle of incompetence, disaster and ineffectual public enquiry."
In other words, this is a production of riveting interest to the NSW labor and trade union movement. In the wake of train disasters at Glenbrook and Waterfall and blame-shifting by politicians and media hacks, The Permanent Way is a piece of theatre for the times. After the play, there are opportunities for Question & Answer sessions with the actors - please ask about it.
Sydney Theatre, 22 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay, until March 19.
Tickets $54-$66 on 9250 1777.
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