Ambition abounds

— REVIEW of Double Feature | The Age

Double Feature | Reviews

Lucky +
Lord Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise

Rebecca Harkins-Cross | The Age / SMH
May 17, 2015

Theatrical provocateurs MKA kick off this year’s Neon season with two new plays set in ruinous landscapes: Australia in the wake of the colonial encounter and New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

A wrongly convicted preacher (Johnny Carr), an Aboriginal man whose family have been massacred (Mathew Cooper) and a world-weary convict woman (Devon Lang Wilton) find themselves lost at sea on a rickety boat in Tobias Manderson-Galvin’s Lucky.

It sounds like the setup to a joke and, while there’s wit in this bleak take on what Donald Horne termed the “lucky country”, Manderson-Galvin is determined to show the blood with which the prosperous nation was forged.

Traversing more than 200 years of history is a difficult gambit, making for simplistic connections between past and present. Breakout monologues from the likes of a homegrown terrorist, the Minister for Digging Holes and a school principal’s deranged apology are more often absurd than profound.

Morgan Rose’s Lord Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise is a stronger play, rendering a steamy wasteland that thrives under Kat Henry’s bold and impressionistic direction.

Only the forgotten people are left: “We’re drunks and racists,” says Miss Claire (Jan Friedl), a vodka-swilling faded Southern belle. Kevin Keirnan-Molloy is mesmerising as dropkick Earl, whose sanity gradually dissolves during his eternal squabbles with combustible girlfriend Suzy (Morgan Maguire). Rose finds coal-black humour in destitute grotesquery but the script strains as it gyres towards its central horror: cannibalism.

Ambition abounds in this double feature but their ideas still need further distillation.