Kokoda – by Peter Maddern – Star Theatres – 2017 – 4K

ac960f4ccb025268ee2bffe517a39ba9By Tom Eckert

Wandering into the Star Theatre’s space, one is struck by the closeness of the venue. An opera theater on a micro scale, and surprisingly well suited to a one man play.

Kokoda follows the experience of one Private Morris Powell (played by Todd Gray) as he lives through the trials of the Kokoda defence. Burdened with the weight of history and a dialogue laced with undertones of the knowledge of hindsight, Private Powell becomes a representative of the collective ANZAC. A one man play, Private Powell’s insights and commentary summon the ghosts of his brothers in arms and enemies to share the stage with him.

This burden of representing the whole occasionally weighs a touch too heavy on the monologue, leaving the Private’s more individual experiences wanting for gravitas, lost in the whirlwind of historical commentary. So too does the audiences understanding suffer from time to time from the rapid fire ocker accent, which by necessity compromises on diction.

PS04Despite this however, the writing is well paced and sensitive. The script richly evokes the pathos unique to the happy-go-lucky simpleton charm of the Australian larrikin that is so inextricably linked with this time in our history. Thoroughly enjoyable was the wit scattered throughout the play, most evident in quips made in the vernacular of the period simultaneously metaphorical and uncouth, as well as some sharp eyed contemporary political commentary seamlessly inserted.

As well as the writing, kudos must go to the wonderful light touches of sound and light design that subtly and convincingly recreate the environments of Australian summer, jungle and firefight without at any point being overbearing.

Kryztoff Rating:    4K

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