THEATRE – The Red Cross Letters – 3.5K

red cross lettersBy Peter Maddern

If nothing else, The Red Cross Letters – readings from correspondence between anxious South Australian parents about their sons with war offices on both sides of the equator – highlights the massive change in the perception about what life is all about 100 years on.

The recitation of the standard language used by officials in dealing with the most personal and emotional requests (most skilfully worked by Rory Walker) remarkably reflects the restrained, polite and composed words of their correspondents (led by both Elizabeth Hay and Lizzy Falkland), only highlighting in their equivalence the reservoirs of pain and worry that must have been behind penning their letters in the first place.

Nowhere in the delays, misinformation or lack of full disclosure do we sense the presence of the likes of Senator Xenophon, Get Up! Or – the standard players of this generation – agitating in public concert for the ‘truth’. The wait and loneliness must have been awful and in their tales – boys killed by their own side’s bombs, shell shocked soldiers sent back to the front, three brothers lost and a fourth injured to name a few – we suffer our own intimate dread about the agony of both parent and patriot.

While The Red Cross Letters is very much anti-war, it is no polemic to that end. Its poignancy just serves to highlight the immense sadness amidst the great madness and the combination of players, Matthew Gregan’s music and most particularly Chris Petridis’s video conspire under Andy Packer’s direction to extract the most of Verity Laughton’s distillation of these treasures from the State Library.

As uncheerful as The Red Cross Letters is, it is nonetheless another important work in the on-going commemorations of the Great War that all Australians – young and old, whether or not with ancestors of the time – ought to experience.

Kryztoff Rating   3.5K

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