Missing Brisbane in 2016, Tom Ballard brought his Helpmann award-winning show ‘Boundless Plains To Share’ to the Sunshine State for a two special encore shows (25 March) and thank goodness he did.
Much has been made of this show since its debut last year: part stand-up, part educational lecture, it’s a hard one to pin down. Let’s just start by saying it is the finest work that Ballard has ever produced.
Ballard sets the tone as soon as you walk into the room with an acknowledgment of country and some wary yet welcoming music. Judging by the amount of Greens shirts that were in the audience we all knew what we were getting into. Yet, it was still somewhat of a shock when Ballard shot straight from the start, pointing out the hypocrisy of the national anthem.
From here Ballard expanded on his plight with the stories of four asylum seekers (represented by stock photos of white people to make it more relatable). While each story was as heartbreaking as the last, Ballard never let the crowd drop into full-on depression, always breaking the tension with a picture of his butt or a well-placed raspberry.
The crowd was rapturous, with generous rounds of applause like finger snaps at a slam-poetry session. It takes an extremely skilled showperson to guide a large audience effortlessly through so many emotions.
The audience went from seething in anger over the ignorance of Australian immigration policies past and present, to tearing up over the lives wasted due to pure xenophobia, to full-on belly laughs over the fact that Australia once lost a Prime Minister and then just moved on like it didn’t happen.
The most endearing aspect of ‘Boundless Plains To Share’ is you can tell this is a topic Ballard is very passionate about. Despite having performed this show dozens of times, you could still see him get emotional when speaking of his friends that are trapped in detention.
‘Boundless Plains To Share’ is so much more than a stand-up show, but as pointed out by Ballard it’s easy to convince the already converted. Which is why this show should be seen by as many people as possible. No matter what your political persuasion, this show could just be the catalyst for the change that Australia desperately needs.