Emerald City Review @ Queensland Theatre

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'Emerald City' 'Emerald City' Image © David Kelly

'Emerald City' follows the journey and challenges of Colin, Kate and their family as they are seduced by success and move from Melbourne to Sydney in pursuit of the fulfilment of their entrepreneurial fantasies.


What follows is an unsurprising and well-executed story of fame, fortune, loss, heartache, and ultimately the question; make art or make a motza?

Starring Jason Klarwein and Nadine Garner as Colin and Kate respectively, the two dance around the stage in a success struggle, as they compete for most successful spouse following their move north. The two are joined by only four more actors (including 'House Husbands'' Rhys Muldoon, and Queensland Theatre newcomer Megan Hind), in an evidently tight-knit group that worked extraordinarily well together on stage. With tensions felt where needed, romantic chemistry shown between several of the cast members throughout, and subtle comedic lines woven seamlessly throughout the entire script, the cast brought fresh eyes to the 1987 classic written by David Williamson. Throughout the production, the characters help us realise that it is essential to look back in order to dream for a better future, but also highlight just how far we’ve come, as the original play is given new life while still maintaining its authenticity and, at times, horrific reminders of reality.

Upon entering the theatre, you are immediately struck by the glittery production that is so well assembled by Sam Strong and his team, and are reminded of the glittery future that people of all walks of life would have been pursuing by venturing to the 'Emerald City of Oz’ during the decade. With enough glitz to outshine 100 chandeliers, the play is mesmerising from before the lights go down, and continues to charm the audience until the final bow. What’s even more impressive is the minimal props that are used throughout the show, further maintaining the audience's attention on the talent and the glitz behind them, while bringing to light some of the darker parts of the '80s.

EmeraldCity DavidKelly2
Image © David Kelly

The glass ‘room’ pivots throughout the show, allowing for quick but easy-to-follow scene changes, accompanied by myriad spotlights that guide your attention to where it’s needed, and finished with a simple desk, chair and couch. The continued breaks between dialogue, where each cast member breaks the fourth wall to further fill the audience in on their thoughts, assists with the beautifully continual flow of the plot line, and minimising any confusion that could arise.

Although set in mid-'80s Sydney, the themes that run through 'Emerald City' are not only relevant to society today, but also highlight important issues that our fast-paced, bright-eyed culture still struggles with (minus the perms and rock music). It’s a fascinating ‘blast from the past’ that prompts us to remember where we came from, while looking forward to a better future.

'Emerald City' is the first show for Queensland Theatre’s 50th year celebrations, and also commemorates David Williamson’s 50 years of contribution to theatre. It’s a golden performance that celebrates a golden anniversary beautifully, and it’s well worth seeing for the reminiscing (you will sing along to some old favourites, and laugh along at jokes you thought you left in the '80s), reminders (maybe money doesn’t buy you happiness), and good quality talent.

'Emerald City' plays Queensland Performing Arts Centre until 29 February.

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